How do you best approach (if, at all) teaching children in the late toddler to preschool age groups about responsibility - not responsibility as in doing chores (which we have a good handle on), but as in making choices that have meaningful consequences?
One example of this is that when we go out for dessert, we let our almost-three year old choose to forgo dessert for a small toy (like a car) that is the same cost as the dessert we'd have bought him. This often works well, or at least without argument, when dessert is consumed at home or when the choice is made at the dessert place (where he often chooses the at-hand dessert).
However, if he chooses the toy and then after that, Mom or Dad get dessert, he often will through a tantrum if he's not allowed to eat a significant portion of said dessert. The only solution we've found is to discard the dessert at that point, which doesn't really make anyone happy (but stops the tantrum). Reminding him about the toy doesn't seem to make a difference; he regrets his choice at that point.
What good solutions are there to helping him cope with his choice? Is this even a good idea at this age (34 months)? Are there better ways to teach meaningful choices that are more effective at learning? Or is this just one of the many difficult things you have to do as good parents?