After I read a blog the other day that talked about how much a mom hates giving her children junk after a heavy soccer practice I started to think about how frequently we do this for children and even as adults without ever really being conscious of it. What do I mean? Well when I was growing up, a birthday meant, “What do you want me to make you for your birthday dinner?” or “Where do you want to go out to eat at?”. After dinner, was always desert, and consisted of eating something that had little nutritious value at night which wasn’t healthy at all. At school when we participated in fundraisers the reward was always a Pizza Party. A trip to the candy store or to DQ was considered “mom’s treat” for cleaning up or being a good kid. At graduation parties, I was often asked, “Do you want this type of food, or that? What do you want me to make for desert?”
When I had sleepover it always consisted of S’mores, homemade pizza bagels, and as much popcorn and snacks as we could muster. Speaking of popcorn, when we went to the movies, my dad always made sure to buy us a carton of popcorn, which by the way, for a small carton it’s around 1000 calories. For lunch, a cookie or Debbie snack was often squeezed into our brown paper sack–as a way to make lunch more pleasurable. Trips to amusements parks, circuses, or the Zoo often resorted in cotton candy and funnel cake because we were having a “good time”.
I can go on and on, but I’m sure at this point we all get it. Not sure if I grew up in the only household that constantly stuffed snacks, treats, and homemade fatty dinners in our mouths as a way to reward us for being a kid(which means ups, downs, games, awards, etc). What I am sure about is that there has to be other ways to reward our children. In a country where the majority are overweight and obese, it’s clear that our food habits as kids are obviously carried with us once we become adults. We start rewarding ourselves with food when we’ve had a good day, when we’ve had a bad day, when it’s our birthday, when we’ve gotten a promotion, when we’re meeting new clients, when we raked in a ton of money or saved ton of money. Often we are rewarding ourselves with food, and usually it’s so ingrained in us that we don’t really even think twice about it.
One of the reasons that I think this is somewhat of an issue with children is because they become adults and old habits are hard to break. Rather than relying on “food” reward systems there are other ways we can reward our children. We need to at least attempt to veer our children away from the mentality that an A on a paper translates to a high calorie ice cream cone. Once we get rid of this “food=rewards” mentality we can then begin to focus on creating healthy attitudes toward success(and I mean that in a very literal sense).
Obviously at this point-the question is HOW? How can we reward our children without resorting to food? How do you do it(if you do).
I’d like to provide some insight and my own tips about how to do this. On Friday I’ll address the topic: “How to reward your children without food” which will hopefully be useful for those up and coming newer parents!