Every night after dinner (and often before dinner is even over), Mazzy asks for dessert. She calls it a “special treat”. As in, “Can I have a special treat? Can I have a special treat? PLEASE MOM, CAN I HAVE A SPECIAL TREAT???”
Repeat ten more times, turning up the volume each time, to get the full effect.
I’m not sure how the words “special treat” replaced “dessert” but the main benefit is that “special treat” works at all times of day and not just after a big meal.
In other words, it is far from “special”.
I spend most of my time either refusing or giving in to Mazzy's repeated “special treat” requests, which means I rarely get the enjoyment of initiating them on my own. When I do say “fine” and hand over a cookie, I'm just thwarting a meltdown as opposed to rewarding good behavior with a smile.
I know, I know— food shouldn’t be used as a reward. Whatever. I don’t know one parent that doesn’t use the promise or denial of sweets as an integral part of their parenting technique.