As moms, we are always looking for ways to keep our kids healthy and happy both mentally and physically. This includes teaching them how to live a healthy lifestyle by making healthy food choices and developing healthy habits such as exercise. One way to teach children good healthy habits is to reward them for making healthy choices. For example, allowing them to eat a piece of cake for dessert as a reward for eating an ample amount of vegetables for dinner. Some parents might be wary of using a reward system as a way to persuade their children as there can be some negative effects associated with creating a rewards system, especially when using sweets as the reward. However, rewards, when used effectively, can help your children to be encouraged to make healthy choices that will eventually turn into healthy habits. Here are some tips and tricks for implementing a healthy and effective rewards system for your children:
- Explain Your Rewards– The most important aspect of implementing a rewards system with your children is to discuss how the rewards system works and why you are using the system. Communicating the purpose of the rewards system with your children shows them the reasoning behind using a reward. Without an explanation for their rewards children often focus too much on the reward they will receive rather than why they are receiving the reward.
- Emphasize the Good Behavior Not The Reward – Remind your children that the important aspect of the rewards system is not what they are being rewarded but why they are being rewarded in the first place. In order for the system to be effective children need to associate understand that their good behavior or achievements are what is being emphasized not that they are being allowed a treat. This goes back to discussing with your children why they are receiving their reward after their positive actions. Rewards that are chosen by your children often work out the best because then it becomes a motivational tool. Rewards should also not be substituted by verbal praise but instead, be used as a supplement.
- Use Healthy Rewards – Using healthy rewards can also be a way to develop healthy habits such as using healthier candy alternatives or activities as rewards. Rewards that also promote healthy choices can show your children that treats do not necessarily have to mean food that is high in sugar. Using these alternative rewards are a great way to motivate good behavior and help kids see the reward in healthy choices.
- Allow Indulgence Sometimes – While we recommend using healthier reward choices, sometimes you have to allow kids to be kids and let them indulge in their favorite candy or treats. Teaching children the benefits of a rewards system is also about teaching them the importance of balance. Again explaining why you are letting them indulge in that instance makes the reward much more meaningful for your children.
- Limit Your Rewards- Practicing restrictions with your rewards systems can help alleviate the system from turning into a system of bribery. Often using a rewards system too much can turn into bribing children into good behavior. Limiting the times you implement the rewards system with your children helps to bring focus to the positive behavior rather the reward itself.
Healthy habits for kids often develop depending on how you introduce them to these habits. A rewards system is a great way to introduce healthy habits and behaviors with children. However, the key is using the system in an effective way that emphasizes the healthy behaviors rather than the reward itself.