This is a great story. On my foodie list-serv a discussion's been going about how McDonald's puts coupons for Happy Meals on report cards now (free meal if you get certain grades or perfect attendance - so the dumb kids can get hooked too, I suppose).
Anyway one mom wrote in with about the best reverse psychology story I've ever heard. Enjoy!
we used McDonald's as a threatened punishment for bad behaviour with my older daughter and it worked very well until she reached a more peer-influenced age (about six or seven – it was well worth it for those few years' peace. Now it is no longer effective as a threat, but I think she has never eaten a meal there yet, and she is eight).
How did we do this? The idea came from a listserve discussion just like this one, when someone jokingly said that it was all about the reward-punishment system and all one needed to do was reverse the system to fix the problem. So one time when she was two, a tantrum in the car was punished with a visit to the drive-through, in the rain, where we got her a plain burger and told her that was her dinner, "from McDonalds" for being naughty. (It is probably important that because it was raining, she couldn't clearly see the playground or the alternative menu items on the board.) Once we got home, we ate our own delicious meal and then "relented" and allowed her to have some. She says now that she never forgot how horrible the burger was – all squashy and shapeless in its bag. (We make gorgeous burgers at home on warmed sourdough buns with our own tomato relish, stewed red onions, kidney bean patty, lettuce from our garden. The kids build their own. No competition.)
Another dad wrote in to say that his soapbox preaching has mostly worked, and although his son recently asked for McDonald's, he assured Dad, "Don't worry, I won't eat it. I just want the toy."
Now these are some spectacular parents.
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