Should you Ever Reward your Child with Food?

Food as a RewardWhen your child has fallen and needs a reason to smile it might seem normal to give them a cookie and brighten their day a little. You might reward your child for doing their homework well or on time with a little piece of candy. Even the doctor offers a lollipop to soothe the sting of a shot.

It’s hard to see the harm in these cases of rewarding children with food, but the fact is that it does exist. Consistently rewarding a child with food instead of with love or other intangibles creates problems that you may have to deal with later on in their lives. It is better to find other ways of coping early on, before such behaviors become entrenched in your parenting style.

The Messages you Choose to Send

When you choose to consistently reward your child with food you are sending them several undesirable messages. The first, and most troubling perhaps, is that your love and attention are not as valuable as the food (or any other trinket) that you are offering in reward. A young child who has fallen down is just as easily consoled with a few kind words and a hug.

The reason that they turned to you in the first place was to seek out a little necessary love and attention from the person they trust most to give it to them. If you substitute that cookie for your presence, then you are sending the wrong message. You are also missing out on an opportunity to provide your child with the kind of positive attention that fuels their growth and development. Everyone loses in this scenario.

The next message that you are sending to your child is that food is a source of comfort. Over time this kind of message can take a terrible toll on your child’s health. As we all know, weight problems like obesity are seldom caused by something as simple as a lack of control or poor food knowledge. Instead, they are caused by real psychological issues that drive sufferers to use food as a substitute for something else, as a drug, or as a way to simply hide.

One cookie or lollipop isn’t going to create this sort of issue, but still, you don’t want either yourself or your child to fall into a habit that could have such dangerous results. Instead, teach your child to seek comfort from people and relationships. In the long run, this will tend to be a much healthier behavior for them to adopt.

The Right Way to Use Food

It is okay to offer your child food rewards from time to time as long as you can keep it under control. If you choose to use this method infrequently and spontaneously, so that your child doesn’t learn to predict or expect it, it can actually be quite useful. Offering a child a cookie to stop a tantrum in a public place is much more likely to be effective, after all, if they still regard the cookie as a rare treat.

You might also find the following helpful:

Age-Appropriate Manners and Lessons

Parent's Survival Guide to Puberty

Bullying in Schools

Giving More Attention

Cleaning Their Rooms






Main Dishes and More

Main Dishes and More

Start saving time and money in your kitchen with these easy family-friendly recipes, packed with flavor.

Easy Recipes

Dinner Ideas

Chicken Recipes

Crock Pot Recipes

Breakfast Recipes

Breakfast Recipes

Breakfast Recipes

Breakfast Casseroles

Make a mouthwatering breakfast recipe or an easy, delicious breakfast casserole to turn any day into a special day.


Soup, Salads and Sides

Soup, Salads and Sides These great soups and side dishes go with everything from elegant holiday meals to a weeknight pot roast.

Soup Recipes

Side Dishes

Salad Recipes

Healthy Dinner Choices

Healthy Dinner Recipes


Healthy Dinner Recipes

Healthy doesn't mean bland with these delicious homemade dinner recipes.

Begin or maintain a healthy lifestyle for your whole family tonight.


Dessert Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Get a delicious dessert for every occasion.

Pie recipes, cookies, cakes, fudge, cheesecake recipes and Mama Shirley's favorites all make wonderful happy endings.

Kids Recipes

Kids Recipes


Kids Recipes

Our Kids Recipes are easy to make and fun for kids of all ages. They're perfect for teaching beginning cooking and kitchen skills.



Pot Luck Casserole Recipes

Casserole Recipes

Casserole possibilites are endless, making it even easier to prep a hearty dinner with ingredients you have on hand. Try some of our family classics for easy one-dish dinners.

Casserole Recipes

Stock Your Freezer

Freezer Recipes

We’ve all been there before, it’s getting late in the afternoon and you’ve realized there isn’t anything for dinner. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. That’s where this section will come in handy for you.

Freezer Cooking Recipes






Names for Boys

Baby Boy Names

Choose the perfect name for your bundle of boy with help from our lists of thousands of boys names.

Boys Names

Names for Girls

Baby Girl Names

Find a beautiful name for your new daughter with easy to use lists of names and name meanings for girls.

Girls Names

Quotes for Life

Quotes About Life

The right quote at the right time can make you feel like there is a kindred spirit in this world that thinks like you do.

Some quotes have no other purpose than to make you laugh...something we could all use more of. Get inspired or reassured, visit the quotes pages often.

Quotes to Live By

Keys to Learning

These are the big lists for reference, all things vocabulary, reading and writing. 

List of Verbs

List of Pronouns

List of Prepositions

List of Nouns

List of Adverbs

List Of Adjectives


Bread Pudding Recipe

Bread Pudding

Cinnamon and vanilla infuse this custard-like dessert that starts with simple ingredients, but tastes like pure luxury.

Warm Spiced Bread Pudding Recipe

Easy Dinner Ideas

Easy Dinner Recipes

Try a variety of 30 minute meals, they're complete homemade dinners from kitchen to table in a half hour.

Quick and Easy 30 Minute Meals