At least once a day, I have a stand-off with my son who is four. It's all about him trying to exert his independence over me in any situation he can.
Yesterday, I wanted to take him to get something to eat at our town's drive-in. No, it's not the healthiest fare, but it was late and I didn't have time to prepare a meal.
Anyway, he wanted to eat some of the snack food we bought at the grocery store earlier. I told him, "Not right now, we're going to eat. You can have one of your snacks when we get back." He didn't like that answer and he started stomping his feet, wringing his hands and giving me that look that says that he's about to have a full-blown meltdown.
I told him that he could either act appropriately and accept the fact that he could have a snack after his supper or he could forget about having the option of a snack at all. I heard, "M-o-o-o-o-m, I just want a snack." I repeated his options to him and waited. He thought about it and then relented with a heavy sigh and an "Okay."
I have found that if I give him two choices -- one that's acceptable and one that's not at all what he wants -- and then allow him to make his decision, it works. I always follow through with whatever he chooses, even if he forgets. For instance, last night when we came back to our house after eating, he didn't rush to the pantry for his snack. Instead, he started playing with his toys.
I asked him if he still wanted his snack. He said, "Sure, please." I gave it to him. He ate two or three bites and then said, "I want to save this for later." So, I saved it for him.
If he would have chosen to not act appropriately and not have the snack, I wouldn't have given it to him, no matter what.
As a mom, being consistent and fair 100 percent of the time is key to managing your child's behavior.