Sometimes, in our house, it's fine to eat candy. Sometimes — like when it's 30 minutes before bedtime and we've already had sweets earlier in the evening — it's not. My five year old daughter was really, really wanting to have candy at 8:30 p.m. one night, and I felt pretty clear that it was not the right time for such a thing.
“Please!” she begged. “I just want one treat!” Then she dragged a chair over to the kitchen cabinet, grabbed a little jar of pink sugar sprinkles (the kind you top cupcakes with) and said, “I'm just going to take one sprinkle.”
I had the urge to laugh because there was something cute and funny about this attempt of hers. But I set aside that urge, and I stepped behind her calmly, putting my hand over her hand, gently putting two of my fingers on that teeny-tiny sprinkle. “No, honey. No sprinkle.”
Her anger flared, the tears started, and she jumped off the chair and ran into her room, closing her door behind her. I sat outside of her door, saying, “I'm right here, sweetheart.” She continued crying on the other side of the door, and I occasionally murmured, with warmth, a reminder of my being there.
After a few minutes, I asked, “May I come in?” and she opened the door for me, plopping into my lap. After several more minutes of crying, she popped up, and she started playing with some figures on the floor. I joined her. The emotional storm had passed, and she was quickly getting back to her playful self.
A very short while later, we were in the living room, getting geared up to get ready for bed. I went into the kitchen for two minutes to put dishes away, and then, stepping back into the living room, I saw that my little one, who didn't get her sweet and ended up being fine with it, was passed out peacefully on the couch.
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