Food as Rewards

Updated on December 16, 2010
J.G. asks from Oklahoma City, OK
11 answers

I just read this on another site and I thought it would be an interesting topic - do you give your children food as rewards for doing something well?

I don't do this with my son because I'm afraid it may lead to a weird eating habit later. I try to give him rewards like a hug, or a smile, and when he's done something really good, something small like a toy car or sticker book.

What do you think? Should food be used as a reward?

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answers from Dallas on

I used candy treats for going potty to get started and give some incentive but that's about it. They just slowly weaned themselves off in time.

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answers from Wichita on

we used M&Ms and candy corn when our daughter was potty training and it was awesome. she would poop on the potty for 1 m or 1 candy corn.

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answers from Boston on

To buck the trend: Yes, I use food as a reward. Because food _is_ a reward, in the most basic sense. It doesn't have to be traded in for anything, it's intrinsically pleasurable, etc etc. I don't think that it instills bad habits - it's like any other "reward;" you get something that you want after a job well done. They also get to have sweets in moderation when it's not a reward. My thinking is that if they know they can have more tomorrow, not eating all of the cookie, etc isn't as big a deal. So far that's borne itself out with my kids. They don't eat when they are full, even if it's really good. They say "I'll save it for tomorrow."

I don't _bribe_ with food, because I don't bribe. But if I ask the kids to do something and they do it especially well, I don't mind giving them each a piece of chocolate. (Of course they'll do it if they know in advance that the chocolate will be coming - in my mind, that's the difference between rewarding and bribing).

Finally, I would never punish by removing food. That is a habit that I think sets up unhealthy habits later on. I don't ever want my children to eat just because they're not sure when their next food is coming, or if that might get taken away. That just feels cruel.

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answers from Dallas on

My son is only 19 months old, but I don't plan on using this. I just don't see it being a good idea. My parents use to take us out a couple of times a year, for McDonalds and we could pick out a candy snack, at the grocery store. This was just because and very infrequent. I think doing that, is not going to cause problems. Food as a reward and bribery will lead to bad eating habits, in my opinion.



answers from Pittsburgh on

DS is 5. We do not use food as a reward (or a punishment). However, we as a rule do not 'do rewards'. When DS does something he is proud of or happy about, we celebrate that with him. But we don't give him things or hugs or 'good jobs' for doing something we want him to do.



answers from San Francisco on

It's probably not a good idea, unless it's only done occasionally.



answers from Honolulu on

I didn't read the article you have posted.
I just do what I do... which is, I don't give food rewards. Or money or treats as rewards or bribes. Either.
BUT on infrequent occasions... I do. BUT, not as a "habit" or as a 'default' method of managing my kids. As I said, it is INFREQUENT.

THIS is a very good article... on how to "praise" kids.... and what is not a good way:

all the best,



answers from Miami on

Food as a reward like a milkshake, bowl of ice cream, special treats...these are okay to use as "rewards" because in my opinion, these are not normal foods I keep on hand in MY household. These are indeed special treats in my house. I guess it depends on the kind of foods being used. I would only use the special treat foods I described above as a reward but not healthy stuff.

For potty training, I've used those Gummy treats that Gerber makes and they are ONLY used for doing something on the toilet. I think that is okay but say, saying a child may not have a meal because of "bad behavior," that is not okay.



answers from Portland on


I hate using food as rewards. I try to teach the kids I'm working with food is for our bodies. I much prefer using quailty time a rewards.

Playing games, doing art projects or reading a special book together is a much better way to reward a child than a piece of candy. When you give your time to a child, it means so much more to him.

R. Magby



answers from New York on

no, no never use food for anything.
but then again we do not have our kids on a diet. everything is available in the house for them, though i am the one who decides what comes in.
for my kids, they get rewarded by praising them. telling them how great they are. they don't get punished by taking food away.
for example, before bedtime my kids get 1 healthy snack (fruit) and 1 unhealthy snack (usually either popcorn, 1 cookie, or chips etc). this is their routine, and no matter what we do not take that away.
my kids are lean and tall. i truly believe by taking food away from them, or telling them they can't have it will only make them want it more. i think that leads to obesity (obsession with food).



answers from Philadelphia on

I do give my 8 year old daughter who has Autism red fish when she goes to the bathroom and now if she goes by herself she gets a few. She is just learning to potty train and the red swedish fish are the only thing that got her motivated to use the potty during the day.

For my other 2 children no I do not use a food as a reward. They are 10 and 6 and are capable of doing what we ask.

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