Background: I got really tired of telling Caleb NO to sweet treats and junk food. I want him to make healthy food choices, which is really difficult in a world of preservatives and processed foods. I'm not saying that those are bad in moderation, but water, milk, fruits, and veggies are always better choices.
On a whim, I came up with this idea. I really didn't think it would work long-term--I was just hoping that it would buy me a day or two! It has worked better than I could have ever imagined!!
On Mondays, Caleb gets 10 dimes. (The dimes are just what I had available--you could use gems, counters, poker chips, etc.) Fruits, veggies, water, and milk are always free! He can have those as a snack whenever he wants. I keep a stock of grapes, apples, bananas, clementine oranges, celery, and carrots on hand. Applesauce (no sugar added) is also included in this category.
We have a basket of "one dime" snacks that include crackers, raisins, smooshed fruit (kind of like fruit snacks, but better for you), etc. There is also a basket of "two dime" snacks. This is where the candy and other sweet treats are. Juice is also two dimes. Recently, I even made a "three dime" bin for the really special
This way, Caleb can choose what kind of treats he wants! I don't have to say no, and it teaches him how to save and use his money wisely. It took just one week of running out of dimes on the third day for him to realize that choosing fruits and veggies more often could mean that he could get some sweet treats now and then! His dimes can also carry over from week to week, so any leftover dimes can be saved up! He really likes when this happens.
Honestly, Caleb has made better food choices since I started this than he ever did...and I avoid virtually all snack-related tantrums! He makes the choices with the knowledge of how much he's spending (I do give him reminders to help him realize what spending them will mean for the rest of the week) and he really does choose fruits and veggies much more often than he ever did!
He did have a rough week this week where he spent his last dime on Friday. I made sure he realized that he would only have fruits and veggies for snacks this weekend, but he chose to spend it. There was a bit of a meltdown on Saturday when he wanted to have a snack out of the basket, but he got through it. Some of you reading this may think I should have just given him the snack anyway, and that's fine....you're entitled to your opinion. But he had many reminders throughout the week to save his dimes. He made those choices and it's not like he's not able to have any snacks. We have a variety of fruits and veggies that he can still have. It's kind of like having your child save up for that cool toy he wants instead of just buying it for him. Call me Mean Mommy, but I like to think that I'm instilling good food choices and money management into Caleb now so that he'll do it on his own later.
If you have food issues at your house, feel free to "steal" this idea and tweak it as your own. Let me know how it works out for you! We've been doing it for several months now and it's been SO good for us! :)