Using Non-Food Rewards for Your Children – July 2012

When your child does something wonderful, it is nice to reward them. However is using a sweet treat the best way do this?

According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in Milwaukee, Mequon, Greenfield, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa, “Whenever it is possible parents should avoid using food as a reward. It contributes to poor health by creating a preference for sweets, and it also encourages the over consumption of unhealthy foods. It can even lay the foundation for a life-long pattern of emotional eating and poor eating habits.”

So what how should you reward your child instead? Anderson suggests that you start simply with words of appreciation. “Simple phrases such as ‘You did a great job’ or ‘I appreciate your help” and ‘You’re a great kid’ go a long way.”

Anderson also recommends making a list of fun rewards and posting in a place where children can see it as an incentive. “What’s nice it to have inexpensive rewards for every day use in one column and then another column with more expensive rewards for those really big achievements.”

Affordable, simple ideas can include giving certificates, ribbons or stickers for healthy behavior; having a family game night; doing a special art project; having friends over to play or for a special sleepover; or camping in the backyard.

More expensive ideas for bigger accomplishments could include going to a movie, festival or sporting event; or purchasing a toy or game like Wii fit or sporting equipment which will promote physical activity.

“The whole point of a reward is to make your child feel good about their accomplishment. Make sure you are giving them something which is good for them and encouraging a healthy lifestyle,” says Anderson. “Otherwise your reward could end up causing more harm than good in their future.”

Ebenezer Child Care Centers will be hosting a FREE Family Fun Night on “Using Non-Food Rewards At Home” on Wednesday, July 18th, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Ebenezer Child Care Center in Oak Creek located at 220 West Forest Hill Avenue. How can you celebrate a job well done without using food as rewards? What types of problems does using food as rewards cause? Come to this Family Fun Night to get ideas on how to reward your children without food. Activities will include playing favorite board games, creating masterpieces through free art exploration, and experimenting with yo-yos. In addition to the activities, you will have the opportunity to enjoy dinner on us! Registration is required. Please call 414-643-5070 to register.

Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.

Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers a variety of free Family Fun Nights and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.

The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, in Greenfield, Mequon, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070 or visit the agency’s website at