Why Food Should Not Be a Reward for your Kid

kids-eating-melonDo you reward your kids with M and Ms or ice cream treats? Do you use food as just an overall reward for your kids? Well I wanna talk about that today in this article. So there’s all of this new evidence that starts to show

So there’s all of this new evidence that starts to show that kids develop a relationship with food starting very, very young and that relationship generally lasts a lifetime.

So how we view food, if you think I just ran a mile I’m gonna eat a doughnut ’cause I deserve it or I just got a raise and I’m gonna have a piece of cake or some ice cream, a lot of that they think stems from childhood.

I know, it’s kinda crazy to think about but there’s this whole new body of evidence that’s really showing that when we reward kids with food we are tying emotions with food, right?

So we don’t always think about that because it just seems like I’m really proud of you so let’s go get some ice cream and it seems so exciting, the kids love it.

I know I could see my son lights up when he eats something sweet or delicious and I kinda wanna replicate that because just don’t really see that kind of happiness in him that often and it just brings joy to my heart but I have to remember that I don’t want him to tie emotions with food. I know that’s really hard but let me tell you why.

A lot of our relationship with food stems from childhood so we don’t realize, we unintentionally with our parenting tie emotions and food together all the time and we do it out of love, we do it really well intentioned but it’s sending the wrong message and we’re developing these lifelong habits and it’s hurting our kids, right?

So if we look at adults, 70% of us are overweight or obese. Type two diabetes is gonna go from one in 10 people to one in three people by 2050, according to the CDC. So we’re really starting to see we’re getting unhealthier and unhealthier and unhealthier. We have an opportunity to stop that now with our own children.

Let’s talk about rewards.

If your child goes potty and you give him an M and M you inadvertently tied a reward with food. If your kids get like a Tootsie Roll or a cookie every time they do some chores again we’ve tied reward with food. If they get a good grade at school and you take ’em for ice cream, ugh, we did it again!

How do I reward my kid then?

Well, that’s a great question. I would actually say time at the park, quality time with parents ’cause you know, a lot of kids just don’t get to spend that much quality one-on-one time with a parent.

Like I said park time, maybe a new book, maybe a new toy. What we wanna do is take that relationship, that excitement, that pride, those feelings and separate it from food as far as we can so we can teach our kids to eat because of nutrition, to fuel their bodies and not because they need to reward themselves with food. And that is a really valuable life lesson we can teach our kids.

I know you’re thinking, “Ugh, what’s a couple M and Ms? “It’s not doing anything.” But if you really look around as to kids that are overweight, I think it’s now 30 or 40% of kids are overweight or obese; if a child is overweight by the age of four they have like a 70% chance of being obese or overweight in adulthood.

So what we wanna do is just separate that.

Let’s give our kids the best chance they can at being healthy and think of new reward systems. If you have that awesome calendar of chores and they do really well, think a park, think of a book, think of a toy, think of quality one-on-one time. Maybe take ’em to a movie but let’s completely separate, food is no longer a reward. You do not get a reward for eating your Brussel sprouts and you get a cookie, right? So that’s called a dessert deal and there are tons of articles  all about why you shouldn’t do the dessert deal.

Every kid has a different temperament and personality. Some kids could do better with rewards and not necessarily have a relationship with food, a negative relationship with food in the long term, and some kids get rewarded with food and end up eating their feelings.

They eat when they’re bored, they eat when they’re tired. So I really wanna caution, since you don’t know exactly know how your child is gonna grow up to be, it’s better not to even do it.

Why take the gamble, why take the risk?

Just use a different reward system. When we were learning to use the potties we used TV as a reward because our kids didn’t watch too much TV so that was a huge reward for them.

When they do really well they can help me make a meal or they can help me make a dish or we just go to the park or I’m just proud of them and I give ’em a big hug but I don’t tie food in any possible way to a reward system. I don’t want them to associate happiness with food.

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