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When All Else Fails, Offer Incentives

Radish Routine #6
When All Else Fails, Offer Incentives

Some kids are stubborn. Despite your cheerleading and positive affirmation, they might just be in a bad mushroom mood. When all else fails, try offering rewards for healthy behaviors. At Food Literacy Center, we discovered that few kids can resist a sticker. It’s a rare child who will turn down the offer of an exchange for a bite of beetroot. 

Don’t confuse this tactic with the age-old idea of offering dessert in exchange for eating peas. We don’t want to set up dessert as the cooler cousin. That only reinforces kids’ desire to eat dessert first and to hate their vegetables. A simple, inexpensive sticker, on the other hand, helps set a positive tone. We’re in the habit of celebrating vegetable eating, so when it happens, a delicious job well done can be rewarded with a colorful token. 

It’s also important to note that we only use the sticker incentive for our tasting program. If a kid exchanges a bite for a sticker, but realizes they don’t love the food they just tasted, that’s okay. It can feel like a threat to ask a kid to finish a meal or a snack that they don’t like if they’ve made a first effort. We’re rewarding the effort, because that’s one more positive experience with produce, and one step closer to developing a positive attitude towards vegetables.

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