Classroom rewards that aren’t food

One of my readers gave me a cool resource, in response to my story about going to my son’s 6th grade teacher asking her to reconsider her policy of giving candy for good behavior and academic performance.

It’s called, How to Reward and Motivate Kids Without Using Food. Here it is.

I bet few teachers have ever seen this. But it’s a great idea and I’m supportive of anyone who tries to interrupt the easy path to good behavior and good grades. That path is a cop-out, and the results to children are harmful. With 1/3 of our kids overweight, and childhood diabetes and asthma and ADD skyrocketing, we don’t need to add calories, acidity, and disease risk to their too-sedentary school day.

Not to mention the tooth decay, depression, fatigue, vulnerability to viruses and bacterial infections, and many other consequences that come with feeding a kid sugar and salt as a reward.

When I talked to the teacher about my wish that my son not be rewarded with candy in the classroom, she said, “Can I give him pretzels instead?” I said, “Uhhh, white flour. Salt.” She laughed and said, okay.

(It’s still rewarding behavior with junk food.)

I hope parents and teachers read this report and share it with others, because it has lots of great ideas.

EVERY time I have a conversation with other parents about the junk-food-in-the-classroom thing, they express their frustration and disapproval. Even regular “Standard American Diet” families aren’t happy about their subpar diet being supplemented with an extra couple pocketfuls of candy almost every day.

But it’s like Matthew said with the Zumba class last week—WHY were we the only ones to leave, or say anything, about the music that made our ears ring long afterward? Virtually all the parents dislike it. Virtually none SAY anything.

I wish more people would speak up. I talk to the teachers in a respectful, non-threatening way. If you’re a parent, I hope you will, too.

12 thoughts on “Classroom rewards that aren’t food

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  1. Hi i am studying for a nutritionalist diploma, am very health concious! i have just started drinking your green smoothies, and have bought your book, which is brill! how many times a day do you advise to drink the smoothies, i have one for my breakfast at the moment.

    regards Sue

  2. When I was a child teachers gave stickers, stars, stamps. I only remember food as part of a celebration. Church classes only seem to know candy and white flour.

  3. In our school they have a health policy against rewarding behavior with treats. They even have a policy against birthday treats. I am quite impressed.

  4. Thank you for this Robyn! While I want my children to do well in school, my children are often rewarded with candy. In 3rd grade, they gave out full-size candybars to children who got 100% on their math tests – and guess who’s kid got 100% on her test almost every week? I want to praise her for work well done, but not encourage junk.

    P.S. I would want my Zumba students to tell me when the music is too loud – they DO tell me when they want it turned up (because they like it loud) but I have only once had a student ask me to turn it down. I often begin the class by asking them to tell me if it is too loud – I don’t like my ears to ring either.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this, my child has gotten candy in class almost every day since she stared school a few weeks ago and I don’t like it! I just emailed my childs Kindergarten teacher with this info and offered to pay for non-food awards for the entire year for their class. I also emailed the PTA President. Shiree, I wish my school was like yours!

  6. Soo, I love your site! I finally was able to get the cookbooks and 12 step program, I’m so excited about it, I was just reading through the beginning of the program, and I was thinking… Is there any way you could market your program through the church bookstores? or like, the deseret book stores we have in other parts of the country? there have been SO MANY times over the past 10 years (and i’m only 23), that my Mom and I have gone in and looked for something on REALLY living the Word of Wisdom in it’s fullest, and how to do it, what to eat… Everything you teach so well!!! Anyways, I think there are tons of women looking for the same information, in fact, there were some little books on the subject, but none of them offered half the useful information you provide.

    That’s all!

    Good luck with everything! You’re AWESOME!

    1. Whitney, you’re so young—I’m excited that you’re learning these things while you can make the BIGGEST impact on your health and your future family’s health!! Well, Deseret Book can carry The Green Smoothies Diet as it’s on the mass market, but 12 Steps to Whole Foods is kind of a hard thing to do in a regular book store. The way so many LDS people do the program is mostly word of mouth. As a matter of fact, that’s how GreenSmoothieGirl.com and this blog have grown.

  7. I so agree with the no food treat policy. I teach elementary music. Last spring, I learned about green smoothies, and occasionally had one on my desk. (no coffee, juice or soft drinks) I explained to the kids what it was & why I drink them. (No, it’s not kryptonite or mold…or…) I received thank you cards from students after an end of year program and several of them drew pictures of my green smoothie! (your drink) I didn’t realize it had made any kind of an impression. 🙂

    The healthy end of teaching by example.

    PS, I invited my friends on face book to join me in a sugar free bet. I quoted you…”Sugar is the nice girl’s crack cocaine” GSG And asked them who had the courage to stare sugar in the face and JUST SAY NO!….still waiting for a response.

  8. Sue, you can have green smoothies WHENEVER YOU WANT, as much as you want! Three meals a day, for several months, if you want. (Just have a variety of ingredients.) Once a day. For any of the three meals, or an afternoon snack. I’m feeling like Dr. Seuss here…..could you, would you, on a train? Would you, could you, in the rain?

    I drink mine at the baseball game, in the car, at the tennis match, in the airport, at my classes. The more public, the better. The more people who see it, RIGHT ON. Turned up noses, gagging sounds, jokes? Bring it. That’s just a first reaction. Starts a conversation and in 90 seconds they’re 80% more likely to go make something GREAT happen in their daily food regimen.

    Sandi, I am in love with your post. Kryptonite. Mold. Haha! Realizing WHAT AN IMPACT we make when we set a nutritional example. Isn’t it AMAZING?! In no area of life are people MORE desperate for a Pied Piper than in the arena of NUTRITION. It’s like people need to be led out of the abyss, through the Red Sea, somewhere better than the hell of lupus, high blood pressure, and obesity they’re living in.

    None of your friends wanna give up their cocaine? Heh. Well, that’s too bad, but do it with me and Matthew and we can all feel superior, holier than thou. (I’m kidding. We’re doing it, and we’ll tell about how great we feel, and more people will join in…..when they’re ready. Maybe after they get the flu this winter.)

  9. Robyn – I don’t teach in Orem, I teach in Herriman. Please tell us when our music is too loud 🙂

    BTW – I was reading the other above comments – I actually found your site last year doing a Google search “diet and the Word of Wisdom.”. I referred my brother to your site as well and we were talking the other day about how what you teach coincides with the w of w. He is currently reading the China Study, a copy given to him by his dentist.

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