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Bad Idea: Eat Your Food, Get a Cookie

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Is it dangerous to associate dessert with being "rewarded"? Example: Eat your food and you'll get a cookie! -- Amy

kid holding a cookie

Haylie Pomroy: I don't know if I would use the word "dangerous," but it's not a good idea in my opinion. There are many books out right now about children being "punished" by a reward-based society. They are all interesting philosophies, but the way I see it is that desserts are desserts, and when we have them, we make it a celebratory event. Unfortunately so many kids get dessert in their lunches every day in the form of cookies, cakes, or even candy.

Just look at our adult dieting population and you will find that many diets teach us to have chocolate bars or puddings or cookies as snacks! The kids and I will have fruit with dinner and often sprinkle it with a bit of raw sugar or homemade whipped cream. We try to reward with words or time together or a movie, etc. I guess the danger in rewarding kids with treats is that they will be like so many of the adults that come into my office and are really struggling with wanting to continue to reward themselves with junk when they have been pulled off a big project or meeting, or are just wiped out. Their sincere struggle is that they don't like the way that junk makes them feel, or the weight it makes them gain, or the health problems that reward system is causing them.

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1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous August 4, 2010, 10:13 AM

Haley is NOT a Registered Dietitian, she should not be giving nutrition advice. She does not have the proper credentials to be practicing medical nutrition therapy.

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