Giving students food rewards for good behaviour or completing tasks has been a common practice in schools and at home. Rewarding kids with food items like candy, sweets and junk food is not good for their health. It also causes kids to associate food rewards with feeling good, which can lead to unhealthy habits and obesity even into adulthood. Here are some ideas for non-food rewards and why they work better for motivating students.
Examples of non-food rewards
There are plenty of things that can be used as rewards besides candy and junk food. Little rewards for doing well on a school project or for completing chores could be special pencils, erasers, rubber band bracelets etc. Another type of reward could be for your child to choose the location of a family outing. Kids also love earning extra playtime, going to a friend’s house or having a friend over to play. This blog has an extensive list of non-food rewards for the classroom and for using at home.
Kids can gain points that work toward earning a larger reward
If you want to endorse behaviours that can be developed over a longer period of time your child can work on earning a larger prize. This might be practically carried out by using a chart of some sort to keep track of the child’s progress and once they reach the goal they will receive their special prize. It’s best if the special prize is not food focused. Before you begin you should decide what the prize will be with the child so they know what they are working toward.
Food should never be withheld as a punishment
Just as food shouldn’t be a motivator or a reward it should also not be used as a punishment. Withholding food from children is considered as child abuse and can negatively affect their mental and physical wellbeing.
Physical activity should not be used as a punishment
Kids love recess and playing outside, and they need the physical exercise too. It is easy to want to threaten to take away outdoor play time, but this can be more detrimental to student learning and their health. Kids often focus better on schoolwork after getting some physical exercise. Exercise is good for kids to stay healthy and battle against childhood obesity.
Create rewards that involve physical activity
One way to incorporate rewards into physical activity time is to let kids choose the type of activity they want to do. At school this could mean that kids get to choose what games to play during P.E. or at home kids can choose to go on a family bike ride or to have a water balloon fight in the backyard. This will give them a reward that is not only fun but is also good for their health.
Kids respond well to rewards and it is important to motivate learning and appropriate behaviours as long as the rewards are not causing problems of their own. If you have some ideas for non-food rewards that have worked with your family please share them in the comments section.