According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in Milwaukee, Mequon, Greenfield, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa, “Whenever it is possible parents should avoid using food as a reward. It contributes to poor health by creating a preference for sweets, and it also encourages the over consumption of unhealthy foods. It can even lay the foundation for a life-long pattern of emotional eating and poor eating habits.”
So what how should you reward your child instead? Anderson suggests that you start simply with words of appreciation. “Simple phrases such as ‘You did a great job’ or ‘I appreciate your help” and ‘You’re a great kid’ go a long way.”
Anderson also recommends making a list of fun rewards and posting in a place where children can see it as an incentive. “What’s nice it to have inexpensive rewards for every day use in one column and then another column with more expensive rewards for those really big achievements.”
Affordable, simple ideas can include giving certificates, ribbons or stickers for healthy behavior; having a family game night; doing a special art project; having friends over to play or for a special sleepover; or camping in the backyard.
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