We’ve gotten into a situation where my preschooler associates Shabbat entirely with eating treats. While her diet is generally pretty healthy, Shabbat is a different story, and between dessert at dinner, kiddush after services, dessert again at lunch, and treats at afternoon playdates, it’s gotten out of hand. How can we scale back without taking away any of the joy?
Sweet but Sour
Dear Mrs. Sweetness,
That’s a toughie. As a Jido, when the grandchildren come over, that’s what we DO.
Okay, let me try to go back about 40 years.
This is what I would suggest: Rather than making it into a fight that you can’t have this or you can’t have that, turn it into a positive.
On Friday evenings, lay out on the table five or six of her favorite treats, portion-sized to your approval. Ask your daughter to pick three of them – one for Friday night, one for after lunch, and one for the afternoon “Shabbat Party.” Let HER choose. Empower her to be in charge of which treats she gets after looking at them and after you’ve already approved how much of each. (Try to be a little generous at the beginning, and week after week, cut back on the portions if appropriate.)
Of course, after she picks the three that SHE wants, she can have some of the jelly beans all three times or a piece of the cookie twice. Also, of course, if she “cheats,” she loses the balance of what she’s chosen.
Giving a child choices helps them to learn responsibility. It teaches them to make decisions within the limits that you’ve set. Believe it or not, children thrive when they have boundaries set for them. It helps them take charge of their lives.
Otherwise, she would probably just choose to come over to my house!