Food Rewards – Raising Kids for Health

food rewardsA couple of years ago we were blessed to have the opportunity to go to San Diego in the USA. While there we went to Sea World. It was an amazing and fun filled day, and as part of their Shows and Attractions is an amazing animal show with dogs and cats. It is where dogs and cats are the actors and entertainers, but how do did they train them to do all these amazing feats? Mind you how did they get the Killer Whale to allow a man to ride it like a surfboard? That’s right – FOOD rewards!!

OK I am going to get pretty blunt here but this is a serious matter.

Your children are not pets nor are they in training to be an entertainer. Do not “Reward” them for good behaviour or take it away for bad. Do not relate food and behaviour together, full-stop. Raise your kids for health.

A child can behave good or bad for you and actually turn the tables on you to get what they want ie. an ice-cream, chocolate, lollies, just simply from learnt behaviour. For example, if out on a shopping trip you may have no intention on stopping for an ice-cream break, but your child is thinking “Ok this is how the scenario goes, if I misbehave, my Mum or Dad will say, Right Little Jonny just behave for another 10 mins and I will get you ice-cream” BINGO! Of course Little Jonny is not actually thinking that, but it is a learnt behaviour that you the parent started as far back to when Little Jonny was a baby. If you are using food as “rewards” for your child, stop right now! This will contribute to forming a very unhealthy relationship for your child and food.

If your child needs a “reward” based system try a sticker system. For example, simply have a piece of paper on the fridge and each time for good behaviour they receive a sticker. After say after 10 stickers you let your child chose the next family movie to watch on a Friday night, or give them $5 to put towards a favourite toy they want to purchase. This can really be fun and the possibilities are endless, just keep food rewards out of the picture. Now I am not saying don’t ever take your child for ice-cream or give them a chocolate, just be very careful attaching, “Because you have been a good today I will buy you a chocolate” or “I am not impressed with your behaviour, so you miss out on dessert”.

Look it is totally ok to treat your child to ice-cream because you want to and don’t ever feel guilty for that!!!  Just remember to separate food and behaviour altogether and you will be on the right track.