Chocolate for Breakfast

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Confession:  Today Miss G had chocolate for breakfast.

And it wasn’t the first time.  {Ugh.}

Now I know what you’re thinking…  WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?

I know.  

Now first off, I’ll say that it’s been a single square of super dark organic chocolate {something she’s had a total of 6 times in her life} both times.  Secondly, I’ll say that it wasn’t actually her real breakfast either time {healthy fruits and veggies and whole grains followed shortly afterwards}, but nonetheless, the first thing she put in her mouth in the morning was chocolate.  Twice.

The craziest part?

And I mean really, really crazy – this is all part of a new plan we’ve put in place.  Meaning she had chocolate first thing in the morning on purpose.

Okay, so hear me out. If you know us well, you know that we’ve been very focused on healthy, homemade foods for Miss G since the very beginning.  In general, our grains are as whole/brown/natural as possible, fruits and veggies and nuts and beans are plentiful, and we buy organic as much as we can.  We don’t do processed, prepackaged snacks and Miss G doesn’t eat sugar in the traditional sense {other than in those 6 squares of chocolate I guess – it does have a small amount of organic unrefined cane sugar in it}.  Now of course that doesn’t mean that we deny our 3 year of treats, because we certainly don’t.  From ice cream to cookies to muffins and popsicles, she’s had it, but homemade versions made with natural sweeteners like dates, bananas, pure maple syrup, and honey.  She also considers things like plain yogurt and cinnamon, dried fruit, and wholewheat crackers ‘treats’, which I must admit is pretty awesome.

Now somehow, and I’m not sure how exactly, it sort of became routine for Miss G to have some sort of {healthy} dessert after dinner each night.  Truthfully, for the longest while, it was absolutely fine.  If she was still hungry after dinner, she’d have a little bowl of yogurt with bananas and almond butter or some apple chips or a chunk of homemade fruit leather and it was no big deal.  Until recently, that is.

I’m not sure what shifted or changed, but mealtimes started becoming a challenge.  Instead of gobbling up whatever meal we were eating as a family, she’d have a few bites, say she was done, and ask for dessert.  Of course we didn’t want her to ditch her dinner in favour of dessert {no matter how healthy it was}, and we soon found ourselves saying things like, ‘have 5 more bites first’ and ‘you can only have dessert if you eat your dinner’.  Ack.  Did I want to be the parent who bargains with their child at the dinner table?  The one who rewards a clean plate with dessert?  Absolutely not. The parent I want to be encourages their child to listen to their body and stop eating when they feel satisfied.  The parent I want to be doesn’t use treats as a reward for eating ‘real’ foods {because do deliciously prepared real foods need rewards?}

We needed to make a change.  I just didn’t know what that looked like exactly.

After thinking about it for a week or two, I threw the only feasible plan I’d come up with into action amidst our stay in Heidelberg.  My thinking was this…  Why not take that one treat a day and let Miss G have full control over when it was enjoyed?  I really like allowing her to make her own {age appropriate} decisions and undoubtedly, she’d choose to have it long before dinnertime would roll around, meaning that it would then simply be off the table altogether.  The fact that she’d have one special treat a day would remain the same, and my hope was with the option of after dinner dessert {most likely} gone, she would just sit down and enjoy dinner like she used to.  Sounds like a decent plan, right?  The only part about this new plan that I didn’t love was the fact that she very may well choose to have that one treat first thing in the morning. {*cringe*}   While we could have put restraints on it (one treat a day but only after a healthy breakfast), I thought that might defeat the purpose of the new plan all together and I really wanted Miss G to feel like this was something she had full control over.  Plus, when I really thought about it, which was better – a sweet treat just before laying down for the night, or a sweet treat in the morning when there was still plenty of time to work off that extra energy?

So, we did it.  We explained the new system just before bed one night and said we’d put it into play the very next morning.  Did Miss G wake up the next day and immediately ask for her dessert?  Yes ma’am, you bet she did.  In fact, most days she does have her treat first thing in the morning.  But you know what?  Our dinnertime struggles are completely gone {they were gone day 1, in fact}.  There’s no more bargaining.  We simply sit down to dinner together, eat our food, and when Grae’s done with her meal, she stops eating.  And not once have we had an issue with the fact that there’s no more dessert to be had afterwards.  Not once.

Am I crazy about the couple of times she’s started the day with chocolate as her treat?  No, but I can live with it seeing as it’s such a rare occasion.  Especially if it makes for a lovely family dinner at the end of the day. ☺



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6 thoughts on “Chocolate for Breakfast

  1. Kuddos for giving your child a choice where it doesn’t really matter when she makes that choice. This makes her feel powerful, in control and you got what you wanted also- peaceful dinner! Congratulations. Good parenting choice. Thanks again for sharing with us.

    1. Thanks so much, Deborah! I agree about handing over the reins on decisions that are fit for a little one to make. It makes them feel powerful, in control, and it’s great practice for future decision making. :)

  2. Oh man. That’s what we’ve been doing with our picky 5 year old: BARGAINING. Maybe THIS technique would work on her. Our almost 3 year old is more open to eating a variety foods and has a healthy appetite. I really want both our girls to, like you said, listen to their bodies and have a healthy relationship with food. I’ve been trying really hard to get rid of the word “TREAT” and “DESSERT” and treat all foods the same but it’s really hard! Perhaps this could be the answer to a stress-free/bargaining-free meal time. :) Thanks for sharing Jen.

  3. I LOVE this. What a wonderful way to give a little munchkin some much-desired control over her own world, and keep the mama values right where you want them. I’m so glad it worked out for you and you were able to find such a great solution. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love everything what increase child’s control in his/her life. You did it absolutely fab. I just wondering- how you are dealing if you are getting dessert at dinner time or did you switch out it for a while.

  5. Awesome! Love it! I have no problem with your approach what-so-ever!
    As you point out, you were simply trying to reduce/eliminate the dinner-time issues that had come up and what better way to come up with a solution that allowed your daughter to play a part in the decision making and have some control over it all. Sure, as an adult/the parent, you set certain parameters to help guide her decision, but you made her feel like she was in control. That’s the way to win your battle!!!
    I can only hope that I remember to put all this in practice as I embark on this journey of working in early childhood education.

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