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  • This topic has 3 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 4 years ago by Profile PhotoTTBB.
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  • Profile Photo

    Often I find myself giving my children sweets as a reward for desired behaviors such as: cleaning up nicely, getting all ready for bed, finsihing their supper etc.

    Is this a healthy/ok practice? Is it sending the wrong message about food? Are they going to cause them to have unhealthy eating behaviors?

    I would so apprecaite if some moms and professionals can weigh in on this subject.

    Profile Photo

    This is a good question. I do this myself and have never thought it might be an issue. Sometimes I use quality time or another reward as a trade off.

    Great question! Rest assured that the practice of rewarding children with sweets for good behavior has been done for decades and will likely continue to be used for years to come, regardless of its implications. But let’s take a moment to look at these implications. Then you can judge for yourself how severe they actually are!

    As your maternal instinct suggests, this practice is not the healthiest manner in which to encourage positive behavior patterns.

    Here are 2 issues associated with this common practice:

    * undermines healthy eating habits -teaches children to overeat foods high in sugars and fats and encourages them to eat when they’re not hungry to reward themselves.

    * confuses kids – “I’m supposed to eat foods that are good for me but if I behave properly I can indulge in foods that are bad for me as a reward!” Good behavior = unhealthy food = mixed message

    Alternative options to use as rewards include-

    * trip to the library, park, or other favorite outing
    * new art supplies or coloring books
    * supplies that can be taken to school
    * Special bath toy
    * listening to favorite music as a family
    * extra reading/play time before bed
    * play date with friend
    * sleepover with a friend
    * playing a favorite game with a parent or sibling

    As you’ve probably experienced, using food as a reward will most likely work in the short term. But some studies have shown that it may have negative effects down the road.

    That said, sometimes parents need a free pass! Using food as a reward once in a while will probably do little harm. So it’s still ok to go ahead and give a sweet for good behavior—-sparingly!


    Profile Photo
    Topic Author

    Thank you so much for your response! Thanks for beign realistic and idealistic at the same time:-) I will keep this in mind as I reward my children.

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