We asked five experts: should we use food as a reward for kids?

Rewarding a child with ice cream for eating vegetables teaches a child certain things about vegetables, ice cream, and behaviour. from www.shutterstock.com

We asked five experts: should we use food as a reward for kids?

Finding means of cajoling the kids into behaving in certain ways or doing things they don’t want to do can be challenging. And most parents at some point would have offered up sweets as a reward for finishing veggies or cleaning up a mess.

But this raises some questions about the relationship we could be encouraging between our children and food. Do we want kids to see food as fuel for the body rather than a treat to be sought after? And as junk foods are more often than not the rewards on offer, are we encouraging a taste for the wrong types of foods?

It also raises questions about parenting more generally. Should we be trying to teach our kids to do the right thing for the sake of it, and not in the hope of being rewarded?

We asked five experts from various fields if we should use food to reward kids.

Five out of five experts said no

Here are their detailed responses:


If you have a “yes or no” health question you’d like posed to Five Experts, email your suggestion to: alexandra.hansen@theconversation.edu.au


Disclosures: David receives funding from the NHMRC and Movember. Jade Sheen receives funding from Commonwealth agencies including the Office of Learning and Teaching and the Department of Health.

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