There were few things my husband and I disagreed on … until our daughter came around. We can pretty much agree on anything — home furnishings, TV programs, movies, activities, politics, religion, etc. So I was surprised to find that our viewpoints on dessert, of all things, were so utterly opposed.
My husband’s viewpoint: I don’t want my daughter to eat just to get dessert. Food is something to be savored. Enjoy your dinner, and don’t think about dessert. Sometimes you want a little dessert after dinner, and other times not, but dessert isn’t necessary after each meal. You can eat all your dinner and still not get dessert.
My viewpoint: What, no dessert? Honestly, it wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that I was able to say, “you know, I don’t think I really want any dessert tonight,” so how can we really expect a preschooler to think about food and dessert that way.
There had to be a resolution to our problem!
Agreeing to disagree on this one wasn’t going to work, but any solution was going to have to promote both our viewpoints — that dessert wasn’t something our daughter could expect every day, that dessert wouldn’t be tied to how much food was consumed, and that it was clear as to when it was or wasn’t okay to ask for it.
At the beginning of each week, our daughter gets 7 Dessert Coins to “spend” after dinner each night — 3 Sweets coins, 3 Fruit coins, and 1 No Dessert Tonight coin. Regardless of how much she eats, she can choose and spend one coin each night until, on the 7th day, she has only one coin left.
We can oversee what sweets are available for her to choose from, and we make an extra effort to have new and exciting fruit options, like fruits she hasn’t tried before (dinosaur egg plums) and those she particularly loves (Rainier cherries), fruit kabobs and fruit in fun shapes (like watermelon stars or ball).
When I first proposed the idea, I really wasn’t sure that my husband and daughter would be on board, so I was pleasantly surprised by both their reactions.
My Husband’s Opinion: Sounds good!
My Daughter’s Opinion: That’s a really good idea Mom!
My Opinion: AWESOME!
We will be starting our third week using the Dessert Coins, and everyone’s still happy with the solution. My husband and I haven’t argued about dessert since we began this experiment. As for our daughter, she’s enjoying her autonomy and the mystery surrounding her choice every night. We’re required to close our eyes until she puts the coin in my hand, and it makes her happy when she is able to surprise us with her choice. . .which sometimes she does! For now the “No Dessert Coin” is still saved for the very last day, when it is the only choice, although I expect that she may surprise us with that too someday.