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Are you a kid who grew up having to finish everything on your plate or at least all your vegetables before getting dessert? Or where dessert was the next word out of your mouth after taking the first bite of your meal? Using dessert as a reward for a good day or job well done on your child’s report card might have been a great tactic 30-40 years ago. However, serving desserts, just like everything else in life is evolving, and we know so much more about health now than we did then. Serving dessert with dinner would have never passed at any evening in most households so why should it now?
Serving dessert with dinner may feel counterintuitive and may feel like as a parent you are cheating. Take a pause and let ALL of that go. If you’re following any mom bloggers on social media or are researching how you want to start introducing sweets to your little one, you may have seen some reels or come across some articles that talk about serving the cookie on their dinner plate. Insert screeching tires. Serving dessert with dinner can actually lessen your child’s fixation, and we are going to tell you why. These dinner dessert ideas are going to blow your mind if you actually can muster up the courage to try.
Take The Stress Out Of Meal Time
First, let’s talk about mealtime. If you are a parent, you only want what is best for your child, and deciding what they eat is no different. Sometimes it can be stressful to watch your kiddo eat only the carbs or the fruit (because they taste so good) or even take one bite followed by an “all done”. That is ok! Think about it, kids don’t have these thoughts and opinions pushed on them on how much or what they should be eating, they are just listening to their bodies. They are born with an amazing ability to regulate their hunger and appetite.
Over time, children will learn to eat like their parents but this is a gradual process that takes time. The role of a parent is to be the captain of the mealtime ship. You decide what they are eating, the time they are eating, and where they are eating. Your little one will naturally listen to their body and determine how much they are going to eat or whether they are going to eat at all. This is a great way to divide responsibilities at mealtime while also taking out the stress of wanting your child to eat more than their body needs.
Dessert With Dinner Is Not A Reward
Pairing dessert with dinner gives your child the control they want during mealtime. They get to choose whether to eat their treat before, during, or after the other items on their plate. Repeat after me, that is ok! Making dessert the treat after dinner lets your child know that it is this “forbidden food” that is better than everything else you are offering at mealtime. It also sets up the idea that this tasty treat with dinner is something your child will only get if they eat the “healthy” items on their plate.
You might be thinking, what is wrong with that? Bartering and bribing your child doesn’t teach them healthy eating habits and again this is making dessert a bigger deal than it really is. By putting all the food on a level playing field, it normalizes the dessert to be just the same as all the other food on the table. The treat is no longer a prize or reward for good behavior, but just another food group they can enjoy, right along with their roasted chicken and broccoli. Dessert ideas to children don’t become “a thing” until their reactive parents make it “a thing”. Keep your cool Mom and Dad.
Read More: How Fear Impacts Your Parenting Skills
How This Actually Works & What To Expect
Your house may eat dessert every night, or you may serve it occasionally throughout the week. Whatever the frequency may be, start serving the dessert with dinner. Now when we say serve the dessert with dinner, we are not talking about dessert ideas such as a slice of apple pie à la mode or molten lava cake. We are simply talking about an age appropriate portion of a sweet treat (aka a small portion). For example, a spoonful of chocolate pudding, a small chocolate chip cookie, or even a few gummy bears if that is what is being served.
Then watch what happens. If dessert to your child has always been the reward, they will probably go for that first. They may take a bite, or they may eat it all. Repeat after me, that is ok! The novelty of dessert with dinner will wear off in a couple of weeks once it has been taken off its food pedestal and is treated as a part of the meal. You will find some days they will eat it first while others they dive right into their peas and carrots. That is when you know you have conquered the dessert demon by making dessert just another food component to the meal.
Radical? Insane? Absurd? Nope, this is completely logical, smart, and practical. There is always going to be sugar in this world so instead of making it something that doesn’t exist, teach your child how to balance it in their lives in a healthy way. Take the pressure off of trying to dictate what your child needs and remember our analogy from earlier on, you are the captain of the mealtime ship. Calm the dinner hour and help your little one tune into their bodies by teaching them all foods can fit, not just the one’s that are green. Dessert ideas to them can come in many tastes and textures. Let them explore all there is to offer.
Read More: 3 Healthy Frozen Treats
Dessert Ideas For Dinner Time
What constitutes good dessert ideas? Is it cookies, ice cream, or a part of their favorite candy bar? Restricting foods out of fear that is all they will eat is a normal feeling so give them different options with desserts and the same goes with anything else you are wanting to serve for that meal. Find a fun way to make their favorite dessert together, such as a fun afternoon baking your favorite childhood recipe for dinner time, prepping s’mores for your outdoor grill night with a bonfire, or dipping their favorite fruit in chocolate. Have fun with this and explore new tastes and textures, we promise your kiddos will thank you!
Raising your child(ren) to be competent, balanced eaters gives them skills to balance other aspects of their lives for all that is yet to come. There are going to be so many other things your little one will need your expertise on such as table manners, how to tie shoes, and learning how to spell their name. Let your kids be the expert on what and how much their body needs at mealtime and take out the stress and pressure to allow time for lots of laughter and good conversations. Trying different dessert ideas can be a fun addition to dinner time. Just try it, we dare you!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Fun Desserts Your Kids Can make With You.
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