I had a long drive to attend a conference over the weekend. Since I don't smoke anymore, I had a lot of time to think I instead (which can have dangerous consequences). One of the questions I was considering was what helped me quit. There were a myriad of things that I did to quit, but what were the items that assisted in quitting? I'm not going back to smoking so, I will not go through a scientific method to determine the precise elements that made me successful; the one item I continually go back to is mentality.
Your mentality has to be right, you have to want to quit, you have to reframe, you have ... but what do these mean? The following is an example of what quitting is like and what getting through a crave is like. The reference will be easier for parents to understand, I'll try to think of a non parent example for those who cannot relate.
Deciding to quit smoking is like being the adult and standing your ground against your 5 year old terrorist. It is responsible, it is the right thing to do, and the best thing for the child. This could be enforcing a bed time, limiting screen time, or God forbid, denying them a sweet confection.
The first time you deny this terrorist a cookie, the seriously implode and all hell breaks loose. You are the parent, you are in charge, this tiny little terrorist isn't going to get what they want, so you stand your ground and the child finally passes out from exhaustion; you happen to be exhausted as well having to endure the ordeal. This scenario is the first 3 days of craves. They are lightning quick, intense, and leave you exhausted. They are a child screaming deep inside you trying to get their way.
Like all these tiny little terrorists, they grow wise to the game and realize, "I don't get what I want if I throw a tantrum, perhaps it is time to turn on the water works." So the next time you tell them, "no you can't have ice cream for breakfast", they drown you with their deep sorrow; they make you feel like you just flushed Goldie down the toilet and the world is going to end because of the sadness. You empathize with them and want to give them ice cream for breakfast to stop their tears but know it is not good for them, so you refrain. You have a deep emotional void that needs to be filled, but you are just empty. This scenario is the next several weeks. The sadness perpetuates, the void remains unfilled and you do not feel whole. This is the child in you crying for you, yearning for your attention.
Then, when they come and ask you for that fifth piece of cake, you start to think about diabetes and how it is just not a good idea, so you say NO. Your resolve is iron clad, you are unwavering, yet that tiny little monster gets a vote in this game. The child knows now the tantrum will not work, and bestowing great sorrow will not bend your will; it seems the child is out of tools but they blindly hit you with quiet persuasion. This is not an overt method, it is very deceitful in nature, and it is their last ditch effort to Reason with you. "But Mom/Dad, I've already had four pieces of cake, what is one more?" The argument will be logically sound, delivered with absolute adorableness, and refined perfection; it will be a left hook you never seen coming. This demon is No Man's Land. It takes place after a month and will remain there for the rest of your life, just like that little terror child, they just get older and more dubious. Also, like that aging child, they pick and choose their fights, so they are less frequent only hitting home at those times where memory is deeply engrained with a trigger. This is the "just one" monster; it can not be trusted anymore than the I need $500 shoes argument. On the surface, the argument will be logical, once you begin to dig, you will see it break apart.
Be the parent with a child who should not get a thing. It will be tough and you will want to cave, whether that be to stop the tantrum, the crying, or you just feel bad for them. You will not cave because you know this is the best for them and will stand your ground at all costs.
Quitting is just like the parent and craves are the kid. When you quit, the craves will be strong and you will want to cave to make them go away. Then they will make you sad or empty, so you will want to cave to feel whole again. Then they will start to negotiate with you, anything to get you to have one more. Once you cave, you won't go right back to the tantrums once you say no again; it'll continue to negotiate, "1 more, 1 more" and you'll cave easier and easier. Eventually, once you decide to stand your ground again, you'll be back at the tantrums.
Moral of the story, don't negotiate with terrorists.
*no children were systematically or sadistically denied delicious, sugary confections in order to study the progress of their denial response system