Reward Your Children With Non-Sweets & Treats


Blog, Healthy Family
  • By Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN on
  • October 16th, 2012

When kids do well, we reward them with many different items. Examples of rewards can be:

1. Verbal praise (like saying, “You did a great job”)
2. Tangible items (like a toy or game)
3. Increased privileges (more computer time or an activity)
4. Sweets and treats (such as candy or sodas).

This last type of reward is generally the least desirable of all the rewards from a health perspective and can result in weight gain. In addition, children can develop issues with food by using it as a reward during their adult lives.

Another example of a poor reward situation is when parents bribe the child to behave when the child is so unruly and the parent is so desperate to shut the child up. Most of these poor rewards are in the form of food and drink such as candy, treats, juice, or flavored waters. Once again, the children are not benefiting from this type of reward at all. And I’ve actually seen many children beg and throw temper tantrums knowing that they can get what they want from screaming long enough. Now, the child has been perfectly trained and conditioned to know how to get the “forbidden” foods with their blow-out.

So how do we focus on healthy rewards for positive behavior???

First step: STOP giving the child a bribe or reward when the child is acting out. In the beginning, the child will put up a big fuss because the child is already accustomed to getting what he/she wants when acting out. However, after a few times (and it is quicker the younger the child is because the child hasn’t yet been conditioned long enough to expect the end result), the child will get the point that the temper tantrum won’t work and will begin to try another venue.

Second step: CHANGE your food/drink reward items into healthier items for positive rewards.

Here are some examples of healthy rewards for children ages 3-9:

• Activity with parent or family such as going to the park
• Creative activity using pens, crayons, markers, or stickers
• Playing an age appropriate game with a family member

Healthy rewards for children ages 9-13:

• Inviting a friend over to play
• Making a reward board where the child has certain rewards to choose from
• Watching a movie or playing a video game

Healthy rewards for children ages 13-18:

• Choosing music, clothes, or accessories
• Going to a special place with friends such as a concert or sporting event
• Getting materials to decorate their rooms

Remember: Anything can be used as a reward. Find out what your children really like to do and use that as their non-food/drink rewards.

What are your kids’ favorite rewards?

By Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN

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15 responses to “Reward Your Children With Non-Sweets & Treats”

  1. Monique says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m one who offers food (usually ice cream) for incentives. When my daughters get their blood drawn (4x/year), we go for ice cream afterwards. I’ll have to think of something different – and be consistent.

    • Sarah Koszyk MA RD says:

      Hi Monique: Food & drink rewards are so easy because everyone loves them! But, yes, the more you are consistent, the easier it will be when you offer the new reward. Because a reward is still a reward. Thanks for your comment

    • Hernesto says:

      Daddy and I: An Evening At the Lake demonstrates the imcoptanre of spending quality time with your child. As a parent, I appreciate the use of familiar, recognizable locations for the setting. And, I love that my 7 year old daughter was able to read the text independently. As an early childhood educator, I would definitely recommend Daddy and I: An evening At the Lake to anyone who is interested in being a positive role model to a child.

  2. Very interesting info!Perfect just what I was searching for!

    • Sarah Koszyk MA RD says:

      Thanks!

    • Juliana says:

      These are awesome!!! You rock!!! Another idea that my kidods love… “Read to a kinder-friend!” Once the students are more fluent in their reading skills they just love showing them off! I schedule a time for students to go read to a kindergarten student (or classroom) and they just DIE with excitement to be able to do that!!!

      • Sarah Koszyk MA RD says:

        Great idea! Reading to kids definitely is a treat. I always used to love it when my mom read to me. Thanks for sharing!

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