Just over three weeks ago, Ernie, the Yorkshire Terrier entered our lives! He is the most adorable ball of fluff I have ever met, but amidst the potty-training fiascos and multiple attempts at bribing with doggie treats, I started to think about how often we take this approach with ourselves. We ‘treat’ ourselves after a hard day at work with chocolate or justify a couple of biscuits with our tea because ‘we deserve it’?
And just like my efforts with Ernie, I have witnessed that all-too familiar bribing in class. ‘Be a good girl now until Mummy comes back and we’ll get sweets on the way home’. How many times have you said to your child ‘if that room is tidy there will be a surprise in the cupboard for you’? Or ‘get that homework done and you can have a treat’?
We are teaching children that sugary snacks = rewards for good behaviour. To reduce the sugar in children’s diets the first step must be breaking the association with reward.
What else can you offer as a reward or as an encouragement? How about creating a star chart. There are lots of printable designs online. Every time your child does something deserving of recognition they receive another star on their chart. Once they have collected ten stars they get to have a friend over for a play date or maybe they get to stay up a little later or have a day off from their chores?
Now is the time to teach children healthy habits! Think before you reward.