What will you do if your child comes home and tells you her teacher is using candy as a reward? This was one of the first sticky situations I encountered when my oldest started school. With a family history of diabetes it was important to teach her healthy habits from a young age to help her avoid getting this and other diet-related diseases later in life. The major health organizations recommend not using food as a reward so it was disappointing to see this was a common practice in schools.
I met with my daughter’s teacher and explained my concerns about using food as a reward. Eventually I worked with the school council to strengthen the school wellness policy and end the use of food as a reward. I also asked the district to address this in their wellness policy too. Policies are not always followed or enforced so I have also made a deal with my kids to say no thank you to offers of food as a reward at school.
Here is a sample script you can use if faced with the sticky situation of food as a reward at school:
I’m concerned about the practice of using food as a reward in the classroom. The major health organizations discourage it because it can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. With diet-related disease such a problem for so many, I’d like to work with you on helping to improve student behavior in ways that don’t make more kids sick. Here are some alternatives to consider:
List of constructive classroom rewards by Center for Science in the Public Interest
Here are some additional resources that can help you make the case for not using food as a reward.
Food as a Reward Infographic
The Use of Food as a Reward in Classrooms
Constructive Classroom Rewards
What are your suggestions and resources for handling this sticky situation?