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Healthy Ways to Reward Kids

Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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Our friends at Alliance for a Healthier Generation have created a useful resource on healthy ways to reward children. This resource states that using food as a reward or punishment not only encourages children to eat outside of meal and snack times or when they’re not hungry, but also may create a lifelong habit of rewarding or comforting themselves with food. This practice can undermine healthy eating messages and reinforce unhealthy eating habits. Food, even healthy options, should never be used as a reward or punishment.


Alliance for a Healthier Generation suggests rewarding children in a healthy way at your school or site.

Some ways to implement healthier rewards include:
  • Writing or updating your district or site wellness policy to prohibit the use of food as a reward or punishment.
  • Surveying staff, students, and families to identify successful non-food reward options and share the results with your school community.
  • Sending a letter to staff explaining the school’s new policy and including examples of alternative practices.
  • Promoting the new policy through the school’s website, social media accounts, newsletters, and/or bulletin boards.
  • Sharing what is working at staff meetings to encourage your peers.

There are many examples of non-food rewards that meet both kids’ and the Alliance’s approval.


Below are some favorite healthy rewards:
  • A prize: stickers, pencils, books, erasers, earning tokens, entering a raffle for a bigger prize
  • Get Moving: extra recess, give students the opportunity to lead a special physical activity break, and host a dance party.
  • Shake up your routine: provide a few extra minutes of free time, read a special book, give a no homework pass, let the student choose an activity, and allow the student to go first during an activity.
  • Show recognition: give a shout-out in morning announcements, give out ribbons or certificates, send a letter home, and post recognition signs.

Check out Healthy Ways to Reward Kids for more information.