Why You Shouldn’t Reward Your Kids with Cookies!

Let’s just start out by saying that cookies do not equal love and should not equal approval!!! Many clients I see come in with a history of being rewarded with food from either their parents or themselves when they were younger and continue this on into adulthood “rewarding’ themselves for completing a project at work or running 6 miles or even “rewarding” themselves when they have broken up with their boyfriend or had a bad day because “they deserve it!”
Proper nutrition affects every aspect of a child’s well-being. It affects how they feel during the day, whether they can pay attention and absorb information in class, if they succeed in sports to how they interact with others! The eating patterns our children develop in childhood will greatly influence, if not determine, their eating habits and health later in life. So, as parents it is our role to help our children create healthy relationships with food!

It may seem fairly innocuous to reward our children with a trip to the ice cream shop after they have studied hard and aced a test or to give them dessert only when they have eaten all of their broccoli. But, in doing so we actually undermine their ability to behave in an appropriate way without expecting a reward and to develop a healthy relationship with food!
We should certainly enjoy food and appreciate it for fuel to get through our days. But, desserts or treats should be unconditional and not tied to a threat or reward. They should also not be everyday occurrences! A dessert or treat is just that… a treat! I recognize that sometimes in practice it is a gray area and hard to implement. For example, if a child has not eaten his dinner and then wants ice cream, well, then what? Of course, no the child can’t have a dessert when they have not even eaten a healthy meal! But, it is important that we do not threaten with promises of “eat your dinner or you don’t get dessert.” Instead we should be having a conversation about how it is important to fill our bodies with healthy food that will nourish our bodies first!
How many of us have had a bad day and rewarded ourselves with the candy in the jar at work, a double mocha frappacino or that extra glass of wine? Well, these patterns start early in our lives. One of the best gifts you can give your children is to teach them that food is there for nourishment, not for a reward for a job well done or to cheer them up when they have had a bad day!

1 Comment

  • eddie
    July 30th, 2014 at 2:34 pm



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