22 answers

Food as a Reward/punishment System?

My daughter's teacher gives out M&Ms for good behavior. Anyone not following the rules does not "earn" an M&M. My daughter is 3. I personally don't believe food should ever be related to anything other than sustenance at school. Am I crazy? Should children be taught food is a reward/punishment? What do you all think? I think it also doesn't do much for the theory of "natural consequences" which IMHO is the best teacher of all. For example, if my daughter is not being gentle with her pet, the pet is put back in its cage. That is a natural consequence. What do M&Ms have to do with running in the room?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hi Chelsea
Hmm... where to start?
Texas law (yes I looked it up) says not to use food items as any sort of punishment at school. No I did not have candy at school when I was a kid. We got stickers (if anything). We behaved because we were scared our teachers would tell our parents. No, I don't tiptoe around anything. And no, my daughter does not have behavior problems. I just think it's inappropriate to feed toddlers a bunch of junk when a stamp or sticker would please them just as much. I'm sure I'll get flak for this, but corporal punishment is not my thing. I realize that there are kids out there who probably need it. But for the most part I think it's used when the parents are out of control. My parents used a lot of it but they were way too young to be having kids and didn't have any better clue. I am positive TLC and TIME spent on their parts would have accomplished a lot more in my case.

Hi Alison
No, she is hating school. Not thriving.
Hi Amanda
The teacher is overweight.

Featured Answers

I absolutely agree that food should be for nutrition only. There are many other rewards, stars, extra time at a favorite toy or video, special dress up rooms etc. Punishment might mean having to sit for 3-5 minutes while the other kids are already out playing. Or not getting to play on a certain toy. The punishment needs to be directly related to the action requiring it. So if a child hits another child, they may need to say "sorry" and give the toy to the offended child. If they are acting out perhaps a few minutes in time out (1 minute per year of age maximum) will help them to calm down, especially if everyone else is doing something really fun.
Food is for nutrition, since when does m&m's belong in a 3 year olds food groups?

K. @ The Nestingplace

4 moms found this helpful

There are very tight federal guidelines regarding food/treats in the classroom due to the present obesity issue. She/he is in violations of these guidelines.
Maybe you could suggest stickers? Pencils? A stamp on a behavior sheet, so many stamps earn something at the end of the day.
I agree. Food should not be a reward, especially candy.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

I absolutely agree that food should be for nutrition only. There are many other rewards, stars, extra time at a favorite toy or video, special dress up rooms etc. Punishment might mean having to sit for 3-5 minutes while the other kids are already out playing. Or not getting to play on a certain toy. The punishment needs to be directly related to the action requiring it. So if a child hits another child, they may need to say "sorry" and give the toy to the offended child. If they are acting out perhaps a few minutes in time out (1 minute per year of age maximum) will help them to calm down, especially if everyone else is doing something really fun.
Food is for nutrition, since when does m&m's belong in a 3 year olds food groups?

K. @ The Nestingplace

4 moms found this helpful

I think you should discuss this with your teacher, if no results, then the director of your child's school. I get so angry when I hear about my child's teacher giving candy rewards. I am not only concerned about the sugar, but even more the harmful chemicals that so many candies have to make their colors brighter and more appealing, including M&Ms. See www.feingold.org for more info and more links to support your argument. It never hurts for teachers to be educated, too. If you really like this school and want to keep your child in it, maybe consider getting parents to go in with you to donate stickers or "treasure box" (old Happy Meal toys, party favors,etc) for rewards. On behalf of other moms who care, we appreciate it when moms like you bring this kind of thing to our attention.

3 moms found this helpful

I agree with you I think that food should not be used as a reward or punishment system. But I know by experience with my two year old daughter that a reward system does work. Maybe you should talk with that teacher and see if she could change her reward maybe give out a sticker instead. In elementary school they usually use a green, yellow and red light. If your child was not following the rules that day they will get a red mark on their folder. If they were very well behaved they get a green and if something minor happened they get a yellow. There are several variations of this program, but your daughter's school teacher will probably use one. So it is good that she learns this now. I was a teacher for 4 years before I became a SAHM so trust me when I say teachers need some sort of system to help the children learn the rules.

2 moms found this helpful

I agree that candy should not be used a reward at school (I think it's fine at home, since that's under Mom's control).

I'm surprised at the moms who don't think it's a bad thing. It bothers me on several levels - it's not good to relate "doing the right thing" with getting sweets; it's in a school-like setting, so rewards such as stickers or smiley faces by child's name are more appropriate; it's more like bribery than true reward; it's an adult in an authority position giving children something their moms may not approve of (I think it's different if it's a friend's mom)....it hits me as wrong on many levels.

More than anything, I think some young children are already able to recognize it as manipulation and bribery, and it may have the opposite effect with them.

I would meet with her and encourage her to find other ways to reward! Offer to buy the first several packages of stickers. :)

2 moms found this helpful

You are not crazy. Personally, that would just drive me nuts. Yeah it may be a few M&Ms, but over time....

I agree regarding natural consequences; however, maybe the teacher isn't patient or clever enough to use any other form of discipline.

To me, the whole food thing reminds me of training a dog. Yes, I have used it myself a few times but only as a last act of desperation.

2 moms found this helpful

There are very tight federal guidelines regarding food/treats in the classroom due to the present obesity issue. She/he is in violations of these guidelines.
Maybe you could suggest stickers? Pencils? A stamp on a behavior sheet, so many stamps earn something at the end of the day.
I agree. Food should not be a reward, especially candy.

2 moms found this helpful

You are so right mom P.! Food should not be used as reward/punishment .. and especially sugar/chocolate ... and with a 3 year old.

2 moms found this helpful

P.,

The state constitutes that food can not be used as a form of punishment or reward. Do you want her teacher paying for your daughter's cavities also? I work in childcare and this is not acceptable. A teacher has many options for rewards with children. Stamps, stickers, big helper, song chooser etc. But if it is an everyday activity that they all should be doing a reward is not required at all times. They would just learn to do it to get a reward.

2 moms found this helpful

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