There is a long, narrow basket that sits on the bottom shelf of my pantry. For a long time, that it where I would dump all of the kids’ treats. They are both old enough now that they can open the pantry door and get themselves a snack whenever they’re hungry without always running to me.
This worked fine except for the occasional time when they would grab a random lollipop left over from a birthday party favor sack. All of their snacks seemed very sugar oriented. Fruit chewies are great and my children love them, but let’s face it, it’s a stretch to call fruit chewies a “healthy snack.”
So I had to re-evaluate the Snack Basket. A healthy food line had to be drawn in the middle of my pantry. The Cookie Monsters words (“Cookies are a sometimes treat.”) were ringing in my ears.
I took out everything sweet: rice crispy treats, fruit chewies, left over Halloween candy, etc. and moved it all to the Treat Jar. The Treat Jar is simply a large glass jar with a screw top lid that is big enough to hold even the biggest of treats. It’s located on the top shelf of the pantry, well out of reach. Little eyes often gaze up in wonder and longing.
The Snack Basket was filled up with good stuff: small bags of pretzels, boxes of raisins, granola bars, 100 calorie snack bags of crackers, etc. It’s still in the same spot, reachable and kid-friendly.
Next came the discussion with the boys about the differences between a snack and a treat. A treat was something that you sometimes had. It was for special occasions like pooping in the potty and being sweet to your brother. A snack had to be something healthy; something that will make you grow big and strong. (We have boys–we talk a lot about being big and strong.) I even showed them that they could grab string cheese from the refrigerator or an apple from the bowl.
And it has worked like a charm. No more meltdowns when I say no to a sweet treat. The division helped them to see the snack differences that there are in the world and to accept them. I do have to stay on top of the Snack Basket and make sure nothing accidentally sneaks in there, and the Treat Jar location often caused my 3-year-old to try and climb the shelves to try and reach it on his own.
But it’s what works for us. Try it, you might like it.
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