Food Rewards - How to Get Your Child to Behave Without Them

Food Rewards

I was happy to meet Julie recently. She's a child behaviour and discipline specialist. As soon as I met her I knew that she would be the perfect person to answer a question that parents often ask me. You see, I teach (based on the research) that it's not good to use food as a bribe or reward for kids behaviour. So parents would ask me for alternatives. And that's where I hit the end of my expertise - I'm a child-feeding expert - not a child behaviour expert. Read on to see what Julie recommends as alternatives to food for teaching kids to have good behaviour.

Enjoy! Kristen

  • Chocolate to stop crying.
  • Dessert if you finish all of your dinner.
  • Candy to buy a few extra minutes of peace & quiet.

Why Food Rewards Are A Bad Idea

Parents give food rewards to their children because it works……for the short term, plain and simple. However, the long term effects on the child may include poor appetite management, low self-esteem and distorted food control because they have now associated food with negative behaviour and/or pain. This learned behaviour could possibly leave your child with a potential food addiction which can carry right on through the teen years and well into adulthood.

There are many other ways to encourage your children to do what you expect of them without bribes, threats or rewards. Add more options to your Parenting toolbox so you are not left with food rewards as your only option.

5 of our BEST BEHAVIOUR Techniques (Without Food Rewards)

  1. Expectations & Routines – create routines throughout the day with your expectations in them
  2. Visuals – create a chart, poster or picture for each routine & reference them throughout the day
  3. Choices – offer your child at least 2 things to choose from instead of just demanding something
  4. Follow through – what you say… do!
  5. Consistency - say & do the same thing each and every time the same behaviour shows up

Try all 5 together for the BEST RESULTS!

Find out more on this topic and many others at

Learn about Julie Romanowski, Mom, Early Childhood Consultant & owner of

Miss Behaviour: parenting coach & consultant service.






"CHILDREN'S BEHAVIOUR & DISCIPLINE SPECIALISTS!" behaviour - discipline - tantrums - communication - interactions - daily routines – solutions

What to do About Halloween Candy

What-to-do-About-Halloween-CandyHallowe’en is a fun and exciting holiday for kids. And, while as a parent you may not love the idea of all that Halloween candy, the last thing that you want to add to an already hectic day is a battle over food. Here’s some ideas about how to handle all that Halloween candy.

Before I go into the ideas, first let me tell you that I’ve never come across any research studies where they specifically looked at family rules for Halloween candy and how it impacted kids’ life-long eating habits. But there have been studies about how sweets/ junk food in general are handled in the home and it’s impact on life-long eating habits, so that’s on which I’m basing my advice.

Toddlers, Preschoolers and Halloween Candy

Take advantage of toddlers’ and preschoolers’ naiveté and short attention spans. Limit the number of homes at which you trick or treat to only 2 or 3. This way they get to be involved in the fun of the holiday, but there isn’t too much candy received.


School-Age Kids and Halloween Candy

For school-age kids, I turn to the excellent advice of expert Ellyn Satter.  I can’t say it any better than her, and because of copyright reasons I can’t cut and paste her advice, so use this link to read her short article here.


Candy Fairy / Switch Witch

I also like the idea of the growing tradition of the ‘Candy Fairy’ or ‘Switch Witch’. Inspired by the Tooth Fairy, kids can choose to leave out their candy for the ‘Candy Fairy’ who takes the candy away and leaves behind money. I’ve heard that some dentists and others are even getting in the act so that parents don’t have to pay out of pocket. An important point regarding this idea is that kids need to be able to have the choice of keeping their candy or leaving it for the ‘Switch Witch’. Remember, as Ellyn Satter shares, it’s important for kids to be given the opportunity to learn how to self-regulate with candy. The reality is that unhealthy food is all around us. It’s an important life skill to be able to make healthy choices.

And, if you’re still feeling anxious about your child and all that Halloween candy, I recommend taking a listen to exceptional story-teller Stuart MacLean tell about the antics of his fictional family. Here's the link to the podcast. I listened to it on the weekend and was laughing out loud. Not only was I laughing at the story that Stuart was telling, I was transported back to my own childhood and how my brother and I had such different Hallowe’en candy strategies. A child’s Halloween candy strategy is such an indication of their personality. Me: I ate it quickly. My brother’s pile, on the other hand, seemed to last forever, beckoning to me as I walked past his open bedroom door. I’m sure that he ate it so slowly, and put it on display, just to torture me. What do you remember about how you, and any siblings, managed your hauls?

Happy Halloween!

Check out my picky eating book for more successful tips for getting kids to eat well.