Dessert Dilemma is something that we moms face every day. Kids are always asking for something sweet. I remember growing up the dessert in our house was limited to after dinner. My kids however are different. They often want dessert first thing in morning. If given a choice they would perhaps only eat dessert all day.
Faced with this constant pressure for treats and desserts I turned to my all knowledgeable companion the internet to understand how best to address it. Today I share some of what I have gathered.
Giving kids the choice of when they have their treat can be a powerful tool.
Here is what research states:
In a world where treats are everywhere, kids have to learn “How to fit them into their day and how much to eat”. Hence when we are teaching our kids how to manage treats, we should teach “how much” and “how often”.
A small treat once a day is about right.
There is nothing new in what I’m suggesting, because most of us parents do this. Yet what we may miss is that we don’t consciously manage treatsbecause we don’t decide a basic policy of size and quantity.
Rather, in our rushed, hectic, busy lives we tend to make it up as we go. But winging decisions about treats doesn’t work because kids are forever tempted by the treats they see and can you really blame them?
When we parents don’t have a strategy we can articulate, decisions about treats seem arbitrary. It is this arbitrary quality that makes our kids beg and whine for more goodies.
The way to get out of this situation is to articulate the frequency rule say “one treat per day” or two treats per day” and then let the kids choose “when” they have their treat.
With this rule you may have two concerns and I will try to address them.
Concern #1: Kids will choose their treat first thing in the morning or right before dinner.
If eating a treat before dinner will ruin a kid’s appetite, then providing a treat after dinner is encouraging them to overeat. There should be enough room in the tummy for all the foods at a meal regardless of the order in which they are eaten.
Further a child who chooses a treat first thing in the morning does eventually decide not to have the treat every morning because the thrill of eating it will subside. Children also realize that “using up” the treat first thing in the morning means they have to pass up something better (but usually still unknown) later in the day.
Concern #2: Young children are incapable of making this kind of a choice.
It is true that young children are developmentally incapable of delaying gratification until they are about 4 years old. However this doesn’t mean that we as parents shouldn’t start teaching them this kind of self-control.
The hard thing about giving children control over when they eat their treats is that it takes a powerful (but dangerous) weapon out of the parenting arsenal: negotiating behavior, food consumption, and anything else in exchange for treats.
If your children choose when they eat their cookie, you can no longer tell them they can have their cookie if they finish their dinner or eat vegetables.
But removing this strategy from the tool bag is actually a good thing because it’s coercive. It increases the risk that kids will overeat and it teaches them that vegetables are yucky.
If you are looking for an easy homemade chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe use the links below: