What is the dessert deal?
Making your child eat his or her vegetables as a condition for getting dessert is the dessert deal, says Dina Rose, PhD author of a powerful book called It’s Not About the Broccoli.
In her book, Rose focuses on thinking beyond the nutrients your child gets from the immediate meal. She wants parents to focus on the habits and lessons parents are teaching their child over the long-term.
Sadly, the dessert deal does not teach your child to like peas.
It is more likely preparing him for a future debate class as he negotiates another scoop of ice cream for two more bites of broccoli.
What Habits Are You Developing?
If you catch yourself saying “if you eat a few more bites of green beans, then you can have a cookie,” you are teaching your child that green beans are bad and the cookie is good.
This actually causes your child to dislike green beans since it starts to have a negative connotation. Unfortunately, you are going in the opposite direction in the long-term by using the dessert deal.
Parents understand the power that a dessert has over their children. It seems as if offering the dessert deal is a non-threatening way to get a child to eat their veggies, but it just doesn’t work.
Have you caught yourself in a negotiation battle with your kids? It’s negative for everyone involved. You can stop it now!
Check Out These Other Great Resources:
- Simple and Homemade Dessert Recipes. Ditch the Boxed Stuff!
- The Healthiest and Easy Blueberry Dessert
- Baked Pears Are a Great Dinner Party Dessert
Setting up a Reward System Without Food
Have you tried setting up a reward system for trying new foods? Instead of rewarding your child with food, (i.e. the dessert deal), try rewarding him with non-food related rewards such as stickers or more time at the park. This reward system can help him associate these foods with good outcomes and not punishments (if he doesn’t eat his broccoli then he won’t get ice cream is actually a punishment). This also helps him get acclimated to the food.
Using a sweet as a bribe can get your little one to eat something he doesn’t want to eat or get him to be quiet during an important phone call.
Watch the Video To Learn More About Rewarding Kids with Food and What to Do Instead
How to Stop the Dessert Deal:
- Serve sweets only occasionally. Offer fruits instead of processed sweets.
- Don’t tell your child he’ll get dessert based on how much or what he eats.
- Change your mindset and accept that some meals will be less nutritious until you change his perspective on healthy eating.
- Offer non-food related rewards like stickers or more time at a park.
- Encourage your kids to become taste testers so they get excited about trying new foods.
- Offer vegetables and fruits throughout the day for snacks and meals. If kids are eating healthy throughout the day, you won’t be as tempted for the dessert deal.
- Reduce how much juice your child consumes in a day. Studies show this will make your child crave more sweets if he eats and drinks more sweet things throughout the day.
- Try to eliminate how many empty calorie foods you offer your child for the same reason. He will crave more processed desserts if he eats more processed foods throughout the day.
- Don’t buy the food in the first place. If it’s not in the pantry or refrigerator you are less likely to fight about it at dinnertime. (Out of sight, out of mind)
- Allow for some cheat days so your child doesn’t feel the need to rebel.
Share Your Story.
Have you been able to successfully get rid of the dessert deal in your home? Share your successes and set backs with us.
“Why Parents Shouldn’t Use Food as Reward or Punishment.” University of Rochester Medical Center Online Medical Encyclopedia. Ed. Laurie Bowers. N.p. Web
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