saying no to a child’s request for treats

I’ve talked a lot about how well children respond when they know what to expect.

  • Having a meal and snack schedule give the child assurance that food will be available at regular intervals.
  • Using specific activities to transition to mealtime makes the transition much smoother.

It can be frustrating for a child if they would like to have a treat but are met with a stern “no.” It can help a child (especially an older child) if they know when they can expect to receive the treat.

Children live in the moment. When you say “no, you can’t have ice cream for breakfast” what they hear is that they will never get ice cream ever again in their life.

Instead, tell them “ice cream is not a breakfast food. Tomorrow we will be going to the park. You can have a scoop of ice cream tomorrow while we walk through the park.”

Of course, make sure to follow through on your promises as well!


Remember a time in your life when your heart really desired a specific outcome but you were met with an obstacle. Think of a scenario when you eventually received your heart’s desire. Perhaps you were excited to start having children but you were met with some fertility challenges. Perhaps you really wanted to head down a specific career path but you were not accepted into the program. It’s challenging when you don’t know the future. When you are first met with a loud “no”… it’s devastating. You feel like you may never get your heart’s desire. Now imagine if someone had been able to tell the future and told you that you would eventually receive this thing you so desperately wanted but that you would have to wait a bit. That would have made the waiting a little bit easier! For children, this treat is their heart’s desire! It makes it a lot easier to be patient if you know that you will eventually get it.