External rewards

External rewards isn’t something I’m entirely against but when it comes to unhealthy options, it’s something I’ll never entirely understand.  Why do we teach our youth that it’s a good thing to get a prize or compliment by offering something unhealthy?  Now I’m not completely out to lunch when it comes to kids and don’t think they should never have candy but this reward thing really bothers me.  When a child does something good they get a treat, sometimes they get a cheap plastic toy which I can’t stand just as much but let’s stay with food on this post.

Greater influences

Teachers reward our youth with candy which sounds like I’m picking on them but really, let’s think about that.  We teach our children, we influence them and send a message with each action.  What message are we sending to our youth, and how are we rewarding each positive action by our children?  I know it’s easy to give teachers a hard time but in this case I say so without a bias opinion.  I remember every single one of my teachers, our teachers heavily influence our lives much like our parents do; which is why I believe teachers are held at a higher standard.

We as a society do the same thing.   Grandma gives her granddaughter a candy every time she sees her, course all she wants to do is make her happy.  We take the kids to that fun fast food joint (with the clown) when it’s a special day, maybe their birthday or when you’re celebrating.  We have cake, toys and treats to celebrate an accomplishment and we do so simply because it’s the norm.  But it’s the norm because we choose it to be.

External rewards are taught by the most influential people in our lives

External rewards are taught by the most influential people in our lives

 

How about a better option?

What if we started a new norm, what if your house hold developed different habits?  What if healthy food was a reward, what if the family all got together and celebrated with an activity like soccer in the park or a picnic in the playground?  What’s almost sad is this idea is outrageous to people, some are laughing while reading this, some are saying there isn’t time, and what kind of reward is that?  My answer…exactly.

Those responses are why we spend less and less time with our families, it’s why you hardly see families in the park together, it’s why child obesity is on the rise as well as medication and fast food sales.  It’s easier to hit the pizza joint, it’s easy to buy a balloon and candy, it’s easier to take the planning and surprise out of our lives for convenience.

There’s nothing wrong with external rewards but…

Now I’m not against external rewards or offering recognition when it’s deserved but let’s think about how we’re rewarding and what we’re teaching.  What are we preparing our children for when they get older?  As a society we don’t take bigger steps to educate our children, spend time with them or offer different options so they’re better prepared for their future.

I think if we really considered what we were doing, and what message we were trying to get across to our youth; every time we wanted to reward them we could come up with a better solution, we could teach them a quality lesson, one that they could carry on for the rest of their lives.

External rewards can be taught in many different ways, how about a party in the park?

External rewards can be taught in many different ways, how about a party in the park?

 

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