Don’t Reward Kids With Food!

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:07 am by Administrator

I thought this was a great blog about how rewarding kids with food can be detrimental.  Having kids who at one point in their lives truly were hungry (in an orphanage), we have purposely been very careful about having no power struggles around food since this can really trigger trauma.  I began to think though that it is probably detrimental for all kids to have food used as a reward.  Think about what we are setting kids up for later on in life for if we tie good behavior to some kind of food reward.  I know that there have been times in my life where I did something good OR I had a really bad day and I felt that I “deserved” some kind of treat.  Food should be used to nourish our souls not to modify behavior.

Blessings, Melissa




Teaching lifelong habits: Don’t use food as a reward

Friday, September 30, 2011


You have heard that there is currently a childhood obesity epidemic. More than 16 percent of children are overweight. Over the past four decades, childhood obesity rates have tripled.

Today many kids are overwhelmed with sugary food choices. This increases their chances of obesity and a future of serious health problems once seen almost exclusively in adults, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea and orthopedic problems.

At home, school, and throughout the community kids are offered food as a reward for “good” behavior. Food is an inexpensive, easy choice that can cause immediate short-term behavior changes.

These food rewards are typically “empty calorie” foods high in fat, sugar and salt with little nutritional value. They provide extra calories and replace more healthful food choices.

Using food rewards teaches kids to eat when they aren’t hungry and can cause them to develop lifelong habits of rewarding or comforting themselves with unhealthy foods. They also may tie food to emotions, such as feelings of accomplishment. “I did a good job, so I deserve to treat myself to a piece of double chocolate cake.”

Kids view certain foods are used as rewards to be better or more valuable than other foods. As a result, they learn to prefer unhealthy foods that are given to them as rewards (e.g. candy, cookies and soft drinks) over healthy foods (e.g. vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy products).

Rewarding or punishing kids with food can lead to eating disorders. Withholding food for punishment may stimulate kids to overeat when food is available, because they are afraid they won’t have enough to eat later.

Kids naturally enjoy eating healthy and being physically active. Parents, schools and communities should provide kids with an environment that supports healthy behaviors and teaches them lifelong healthy eating habits.

Parents can provide non-food rewards at home. Respect and words of appreciation can go a long way. Saying “You did a great job” or “I appreciate your help” is often underestimated. Simply recognizing kids for good work or behavior is a great motivator and is always appreciated.

Here are other ways to reward a child’s good behavior and academic excellence while generating fun and great results:

• Allow your child to have a few friends over after school to play sports or watch a video.

• Invite a few of their friends to a sleepover.

• Let the child help plan a special outing.

• Read a bedtime story of your child’s choice.

• Have a family game night, and let the child choose the game(s).

• Allow the child to pick a movie that the family will watch together or an outdoor sport that the family will play together.

• Keep a box of special toys, computer games or art supplies that can only be used on special occasions.

• Set up a system so the child can earn movie tickets, coupons, gift certificates or discounts to skating rinks, bowling alleys and other entertainment outlets.

• Add your own ideas. Consider the child’s age, interests, skill level, etc.

• Recognizing kids with respect and words of appreciation are better motivators than rewards of food.

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