Should Teachers Reward Students With Sweets? 10 Reasons to Stop Rewarding them with Sweets

Set forth on a exploration through the diverse landscape of our newest article, Should Teachers Reward Students With Sweets?

“A sweet to the student who achieves the highest” or “ A chocolate bar the student with the best project” are examples of common classroom situations where sugar is presented as a reward. At first this may seem harmless, after all celebrating achievement can only be a good thing – so how bad is just one little piece of candy?

Should Teachers Reward Students With Sweets? Examining the Consequences:

The problem lies in the accumulation factor and the unintended subliminal message resulting in long term effects. Using food as a reward or as a punishment, however, can undermine the healthy eating habits that parents are trying to teach your children. Giving sweets, chips, or soda as a reward often leads to children overeating foods that are high in sugar, fat, and empty calories. Worse, it interferes with kids’ natural ability to regulate their eating. It also encourages them to eat when they’re not hungry to reward themselves.

Offering otherwise off-limits food as a reward or special treat is also confusing. Children hear that they’re supposed to enjoy foods that are good for them and avoid foods with little nutritional value. Being told that they can indulge in foods that are bad for them as a reward for doing something good sends a mixed message. They may also start associating unhealthy foods with certain moods— when they feel good, about themselves, for instance, it’s OK to reach for a sweet.

Parents can offer a number of other rewards, not related to food, to reinforce good behavior. Consider these creative alternatives:

  • Trip to the library, zoo, or other favorite outing
  • New art supplies or coloring books
  • Pencils, stickers, or other supplies that can be taken to school
  • Special bath toy
  • Listening to their favorite music as a family
  • Extra reading time before bed
  • Play date or sleepover with a friend
  • Playing a favorite game with a parent

10 Reasons to Stop Teachers Who Reward Students With Sweets:

  1. Eating sweets poses a significant threat to the dental health of children.
  2. Elevated sugar intake can disrupt dopamine production, impacting both motor and motivational functions, as evidenced by research findings.
  3. The intake of sugar has the potential to harm overall health and immune resilience by depleting the body’s essential vitamins and minerals.
  4. Numerous children exhibit addiction-like behaviors towards sugar, often preferring it over essential, nutrient-rich diets. 
  5. Long-term exposure to added sugar may impair the brain’s ability to convey when it’s time to stop eating. 
  6. Excessive sugar intake in children increases susceptibility to yeast overgrowth, potentially leading to issues such as eczema, chronic nasal congestion, and ear infections. Moreover, this overgrowth has been associated with sensory integration disorders and mental fogginess.
  7. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average U.S. citizen consumes 156 pounds of added sugar every year.
  8. Sugar disrupts the absorption of specific B vitamins, which play a vital role in sustaining optimal thinking, coordination, and memory.
  9. The introduction of extrinsic motivation or external incentives often leads students to choose simpler tasks, with a tendency to invest minimal effort while expecting maximum rewards.
  10. The provision of rewards can devalue the learning experience and hinder the fostering of intrinsic motivation and self-discipline.

We need to change how we reward children immediately and in the process hope that we also alter our own way of looking at sugar as “just a small treat that can causes no harm.” There are better ways and you probably already use some of them anyways. Cupcakes, ice cream, chocolate can still exist in a child’s world, but let’s break the connection between sugar and rewards.

Here at Discover Learning, we believe positive praise is enough to push our students and keep them motivated and not to Reward Students With Sweets. Our very best students, get a prize at the end of the month for the handwork they have done. Connect with us or visit our Tutoring center in Motor City for more information and to book your no-obligation, free trial.

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