There was too much candy in the house. My son had a candy stash that contained loot from Halloween, Christmas, birthday parties and Easter. I rooted through the stash and discovered that there were a lot of lollipops.
I've never had anything against lollipops. They are surprisingly delicious at any age. We don't often give them to my son, however, because we usually only let him have candy after dinner and we discourage him from choosing lollipops - they just take too long to eat before bath time.
So, I gathered up all the lollipops, stuck them in a cup and put them in his play area. I told my son that he could have one whenever he wanted - as long as it wasn't right before bedtime. I told him he could eat them, but we wouldn't replace them when they were gone. Then I sat back and watched.
At first he seemed incredulous. "Really? They are free-to-me lollipops?"
"Yes," I answered.
So, he ate one. Then, about an hour later, he came back for another one, reminding me that he could decide when he had one. I reinforced that idea for him. The next day, he ate another two and finally stopped feeling the need to remind me that he had control of when those lollipops could be eaten.
On the second weekend of this experiment, he pointed out that he was running low on lollipops. I agreed and explained to him again that once they were gone, they were gone. He didn't exactly ration the rest of them, but he definitely slowed his consumption rate of multiples a day to one a day. When his stash was empty, he let me know that he liked having "free-for-me, anytime lollipops" and would like to get some more.
I haven't replaced the lollipops (still too much other candy in the house). But this little experiment taught me that my son had really great self control. And considering that is one of the traits that parents want to teach their children the most, that makes me really happy. At any point of time, he could have gorged on lollipops, but he stuck to only eating about two a day.
How do you help teach your children self control? Leave me your tips in the comments. I am off to root through his stash to find another candy to leave in the "free-to-me" cup.