Maybe three times a week, when my little brother and I got home from school, Mom had some sort of snack waiting for us. My favorites were toast strips with cinnamon and sugar, along with some hot chocolate. But aside from that, snacking just wasn't really done. Well, apparently I haven't gotten the no-snacking concept across as well as my mom did, because my kids seem to always be ready for a treat. And it's hardly ever a request for carrot sticks or apple slices. Sometimes I'm so tired of their demands that I give in, even though I know it's not good for them. Someone suggested the kids earn the treats through chores and good behavior, but I didn't want chores and good behavior to seem like something so extraordinary that they got a treat out of it. I started thinking about how they could pay for it in other ways and thought maybe cash would work. Then I noticed my seven-year-old daughter, Emily, playing house and thought she might like playing store, too. I took my four kids to the store and let them each choose two treats, then threw in fruit, vegetables, and some 100% juice boxes. We stocked a shelf I cleared out of the pantry, and since Todd, age ten, and Kyle, age eight, are both learning math, I enlisted their help fixing prices to each snack. The vegetables are free, fruit and juice are around a quarter each, crackers are seventy-five cents, candy bars are two dollars, and everything else falls somewhere in between. With that, our little snack shop was born! We open the doors after school every day and plan on opening two times a day during the summer. I give each of my kids five dollars of pretend money for the week. The first week Kyle and Anne, age five, spent all of their money by Wednesday, but within three weeks had managed to make it last until Saturday. My kids are all learning to eat healthier and becoming familiar with managing money. In the last month, each of them has wanted a turn being the shopkeeper, and so they are learning some customer service skills, too!
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