Today was the end of the second day of a new experiment. A friend of mine who is a therapist called me yesterday regarding Bridget, and her snack sneaking ways. Apparently my friend had posed the question of "what to do" to her colleagues. They, it seems, also thought that perhaps pantry pilfering was a control issue for Bridget. Though, in all fairness, I'd like to give credit to my blog readers for picking up on that possibility first.
When I think about it, control could very well be an issue. Bridget is a middle child, soon to be the middle child. She doesn't choose all that much about what happens in her day. So, if it is a control issue, my question became, how do I allow her more autonomy but within reasonable limits? It was suggested that I just allow her to go to the pantry when she wanted and have free reign. I'm just not comfortable with that. Between an ant population that lives for food left on the floor, and the need to do a certain amount of snack rationing so that there's enough for everyone throughout the week, I need to keep some limits on snacking.
Then, based on my friend's idea, I came up with one of my own. I grabbed a clear shoebox and put three bags inside. One with a picture of a little girl for Bridget, one with a flower for Piper, and one with Reagan's name. Inside each, I placed several favorite snacks. I told the kids that the snack bags were theirs. If they are hungry, they may get a snack from their snack bag. They may do so anytime they like. And they may eat anything they want from within their bag. There would be no more snack time.
Yesterday the snacks went quickly, and by the end of the day both girls were a bit disappointed that there were no more. But no one got into anything in the pantry! Today, Piper finished her snacks first, and was still a bit disappointed, but Bridget finished her snacks last, and didn't complain once. Now when they complain about being hungry, I can steer them toward their snack bags. And, again, I didn't fish Bridget out of the pantry. Not once. I think a few more days will tell if this is really going to work, but so far so good. The kids have some control, there's less whining at me, and I'm not getting angry at a little girl who's where she shouldn't be!