The talks and negotiations for candy and sweet treats reached an all-time high in the weeks following the holidays. I grew weary of the asking, the begging, the whining. One day when my son asked me for “One more gelt,” (or was it, “One more candy cane?”) I realized I was sick of rationing. Taking a page out of a friend’s book, I instituted a Special Time session called “Candy Time.”
“Hey Joshua, let’s have some Special Time where all we do is eat candy! What do you say?”
“Yeah!” he replied most enthusiastically. We bonded in our united sense of purpose as we pulled every treat we could find out of the cupboard: holiday treats, marshmallows, fudge, cookies, chocolate chips.
“Don’t forget the raisins Mom,” he said and only then did I realize just how much rationing I’d been doing!
“Okay Josh, here’s the deal, I’m going to set the timer for five minutes and you can have as much of all this stuff as you want, OK?” His eyes lit up and he started unwrapping and arranging as I set the timer.
As I intentionally delighted in all the sugary treats he was ingesting and made comments like, “That one looks so yummy,” and “Doesn’t that taste so good!?” I could see in his eyes how different an experience it was for him to enjoy his treats in a different zone, not the one where I was begrudging him his joy in the sweets, but one where I was making eye contact, smiling, even enjoying his enjoyment.
“Do you want a bite, Mommy?” he offered.
“Sure,” I replied as I took a taste of the fudge, “Mmmm, that is tasty!”
After what seemed like forever, he asked me how much time he had left.
“About two minutes.”
He didn’t rush, he enjoyed every bite, and when the timer did go off he asked if he could eat the last few mini-marshmallows he had lined up. I agreed and we put everything away.
Now he asks for “Candy Time” about once a week. Sometimes he asks more frequently and I say, “Yes,” or “No.” But, interestingly, it doesn’t seem to be a problem the times when I do say “No.”
-Sarah MacLaughlin is a Hand in Hand Instructor in Training who also blogs at http://sarahsbalancingact.blogspot.com/