I’ve done it too- rewarded my kids for good grades and behaviors with junk treats and candy sweets. I’ve even snuck a piece of chocolate to them behind their dentist daddy’s back.
Why? Well, it’s a little complicated isn’t it? I know in my head that this is an unhealthy habit, yet, in my heart and emotions I believe a little candy and cavities are a part of a great childhood (I swear I don’t have any stock in Nestle).
If I am honest with myself, I am living out a little bit of my childhood dreams of when getting candy was a RARE treat. I had to go get it from the corner liquor store- a nickel for a small pack of Now n’ Laters or for a piece of double bubble gum with the comic wrapper.
When I had more money, I picked up a quarter for the box of lemon drops or baked beans. After eating you then tore the flaps off one end and blew into it to create a kazoo like sound all the way home. Fond memories!
The big difference was I earned the coins BEFORE I planned and got to spend it on the sweets. Now a days, our generation often misses the mark and our efforts fall flat in delivering the right positive message as the reward is just simply handed over and often for even the merest of “achievements”.
Once caught myself contemplating bribing my wiggly son with candy to sit still and eat his meal- what?!?
He should do that regardless….there is a fine line with bribery and rewards when raising a child. It’s so easy to create a sense of entitlement for every action isn’t there?
We should recognize when intrinsic rewards should be emphasized rather than the extrinsic rewards, and when we erroneously use junk foods and candy to create nostalgia and pleasure memories for our kids.
I have to remind myself daily to avoid that trap and try to use attention, reading time, activity rewards and other non edible intrinsic rewards instead.
That’s a Healthgist challenge- to help raise healthier children and to also avoid those emotional food traps for ourselves too.
Let’s make Healthy memories, not candy eating memories.