Encouraging good behaviour in our kids and rewarding them is one of the best parts of being a parent. We all have our methods of rewarding our little ones, however one of the most common methods is by giving them food rewards such as crisps, chocolate and sweets. In recent years, since we have learned more about health, nutrition and the psychology of eating however, offering food as a rewards has been shown to have negative long-term impacts. However, just because rewarding kids with sweets all the time might not be the best idea, that doesn’t mean good deeds can’t be rewarded in other ways.
Stickers & Stamps
Two of the most common rewards used by parents and teachers are stickers and stamps. From “Good Work” stamps on homework to gold star stickers on a chores chart, most of us have seen, given or experienced the satisfying feeling of having a little memento of our achievement; and even as an adult many of us can’t resist the lure of a good sticker! This is a classic and for a reason, as many kids respond well to stamps and stickers as physical markers of accomplishment. Plus, it doesn’t contribute to health problems, take up time or cost much money. It’s a guaranteed win-win.
Giving Them Choice
Whether it’s choosing where to sit in the cinema or which fruit they want to have for dessert, rewarding kids with being able to make a choice is an effective reward for many. When we are kids, we rarely get a say in what we do whether it’s going to school or what time we go to bed. When we offer kids choice, it allows them to decide what they want to do, even in a small way. As well as being free and easy, it teaches kids to be able to manage their own decisions which can help them later in life.
Make Time for a Fun Activity
One of the main reasons that food has become the go-to reward for kids, is that it is a quick and instant way to reward good behaviour. However, by making time to do an activity with your kid you not only get to spend time with your little one, but also teach your child about patience and waiting for a reward. The activity can be anything from sports to reading, or as an extra special reward, you can enjoy a day out to a local attraction.
Healthy Sweet Treats
Although many of the common food rewards parents use such as chocolate and sweets aren’t healthy, there are some healthy alternatives to the classic sweet treats. Most large supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s offer fruit bars such as Goodies, Naked and Fruit Bowl bars which offer kids the chance to enjoy sweet flavours without the added nasties. The range of healthy kid’s foods has grown greatly over the years, and you can now swap out fat-filled crisps too with alternatives including chickpea and vegetable crisps. Stock up with a pack of healthy fruit bars and treat your little one to a healthy snack which won’t damage their health.
As well as offering a healthy alternative to the instant reward of a piece of chocolate or packet of crisps, many of these rewards offer other benefits to our kids. Whilst getting praise for doing well, they also learn key skills such as patience, decision-making and healthy eating choices which is likely to stay with them throughout their lives.