Mummy can I have an ice cream? How to handle the ice cream van

This ice cream van stops outside our house. I don’t know why, we never buy ice cream from when we are at home! (That’s not to say we never eat it)

Here are some tips when navigating the ice cream van whether it’s outside school or elsewhere.

🍦Have standard sentences planned

For example:
“It’s not ice cream time now but how about you choose which day we have it this week” (this could be at home it doesn’t have to be from a van). Make sure you can fulfil this promise before you say this.

“We don’t buy ice cream from a van except on holiday because it’s expensive and we prefer to have it at home”

🍦Avoid lying

My favourite lie about the ice cream van was a family friend used to say their child. She told him that if the music was playing it was because they had run out of ice cream! Yep, true story.

Lies like, “I have forgotten my purse” don’t work either because your child may magically find some money or your purse and then you have to back track, or next time they can’t see the logic in the excuse.

🍦Avoid comparison

Let other parents make their own decision and just say “that’s what mummy says”. Every family has their own way of doing things and that’s ok. Every family is navigating things in different ways, for different reasons. It’s good for children to know not all families are the same.

🍦 Avoid negotiation

Children are incredibly clever. If you give in to the the persuasion, they will learn that their tactic will work next time. So, be consistent and hold firm. Trust me I know how hard this it.

🍦Keep the conversation level

Words like ‘treat’ are not helpful for children developing a good relationship with food. It’s an ice cream. They are either having it or not having it. Your choice is what and when to offer it, the child’s choice is whether to eat it and how much – exactly the same as the broccoli you serve them for tea.

We also don’t want screaming and shouting. Keep your voice calm and move the attention away from the van to another activity or conversation.

🍦If possible, let them have ice cream from a van sometimes

The key thing here is to decide beforehand and offer it before your children have asked. If you never have an ice cream from the van it can become an even bigger thing in children’s minds.

If you want them to develop a good palette, consider taking them to an ice cream shop with homemade ice cream (dairy or vegan – there’s a really good vegan one near us). If there get used to quality, when you do have one from the ice cream van that’s not as good, they might even decide for themselves not to go for the basic one! (I have first hand experience of this strategy working with burgers but that’s another story!)

Hope this helps. Let me know in the comments whether you have any other tips.

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