Should You Reward Children for Eating Healthy Food?

Does this sound familiar? “You can have dessert but you have to eat your broccoli first.” OR “If you eat your broccoli, then can have more bread” And, in many cases, the child eats the broccoli and we, as parents, feel satisfied. But is this really the best way to teach our children to eat broccoli?

I hear and see this happening so often, it’s almost the norm.  

The thing is, though, rewarding children for eating “healthy” food doesn’t work. Sure, the child may eat it that day, and maybe even the next day, but it doesn’t actually teach them to eat healthy food. Instead, it teaches them that they should be rewarded for eating it. And, it teaches them that healthy food tastes so bad, that they only way to eat it is to be rewarded with something sweet. You may think if you take away the reward, your child will never eat the broccoli. And it may be harder, sure, but when he does eventually try it, and he will, he’ll be doing it for the right reasons, not to get dessert.

We spend so much time focusing on food, and what our children are eating, but we also need to focus on what lessons we are teaching our children about food.

First Bites is a non-profit organization that runs programs in preschools and early childcare centers to get kids excited about eating fruits and vegetables. To learn more about the program and for more ideas on what and how to feed children, visit, or follow us on Twitter @FirstBites.