Rewarding Children

Rewarding children for good behaviour sounds simple. Yet in doing so parents face three problems that are doing more harm than good both physically and psychologically to their children.

  1. The danger with rewarding kids for a certain behaviour teaches them to expect a reward in exchange for that certain behaviour, which means if the reward is stopped the wished-for behaviour might stop too. Is your child a child or a performing sea lion?
  2. Giving children physical rewards (what psychologists call extrinsic motivation) for doing something, undermines the development of any intrinsic (internal motivation) reward to do the very same thing. In other words feeling good, proud and happy that you have done something good is a much more powerful reward and long lasting reward than a quick candy bar. We know from research that developing these intrinsic feelings helps children develop in a much more positive way and prepares children for adult life.
  3. Rewards such as sweets and chocolate in fact produce more harm than good if done on a regular basis. The content of these sweet treats is bad for their health, teeth and mood. Sugar has the same addictive effect as nicotine and cocaine for example. Would you give your child cigarettes, or drugs to reward them for being good?

The good news is that there is one powerful reward that is free, powerful and that your child craves.
Attention. Why do you think games like Fortnite have become so popular with children? Its got something to do with the fact that they are getting attention from their peers and friends.

Descriptive praise and attention are the most effective form of reward a parent can offer a child. Telling them how proud or pleased you are with them and that others in the family will be proud of their behaviour should not be underestimated as a powerful form of reward. Giving your child attention in terms of playing with them is similarly a very powerful reward.

Interesting article on the Telegraph

Some ideas for rewards that will be better for your child and they will enjoy:

  1. Praise. It costs nothing. Zilch. Praise their effort, not the achievement.
  2. Play a game of hide and seek for ten minutes
  3. Hi-5. Acknowledge your child’s achievement with this simple, fun action.
  4. Read a book. Their favourite. And let them choose the time and place.
  5. Play a Video clip. One you both like and will watch together. And save it just for these occasions.
  6. Stay up late. But not too late! 5-15 minutes extra depending on your child’s accomplishment and whether it’s a school night or not.
  7. Do a puzzle. Together, or as a family. But make sure you finish it!
  8. What’s for dinner? Let them choose, not just for them but the whole family.

Get your school or nursery to complete a Rewards Review for personalised ways to transform the way we reward our children, so this behaviour is not modelled into adulthood.

How healthy are breakfast cereals?

How healthy are breakfast cereals?

Around one third of Britons say they eat cereal as a typical weekday breakfast. Originally invented as a digestive aid, cereal remains the nation’s go-to choice for breakfast – but at what cost to our health? Cereals and cereal packaging look like we are making healthy choices. Yet underneath the bold marketing blurb promising ‘healthy multi grains and vitamins’, the majority of supermarket cereals are jam-packed with tooth rotting sugar.

Blood sugars

Starting your day with a high-sugar breakfast cereal is no good for anyone – as you experience a spike in your blood sugar and insulin levels. Hours later, your blood sugar crashes and your body is craving another mid-morning, high-carb meal or snack. Research shows that excessive sugar consumption increases your risk of not just dental decay, but other serious conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. So raising awareness and taking action to avoid a sugary start to your day really is important to your overall health and wellbeing.

At the Rewards Project, we advocate swapping breakfast cereals for sugar free options such as eggs, avocado, rye bread or salmon. Our 14-day sugar detox is packed with plenty of tasty breakfast suggestions.

The World Health Organisation says adults should consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar a day – around 25g. The most effective way to manage sugar intake is reading the nutrition label on the back of packaging – check for nutrients and sugar content per 100g.

When you compare brands, you’ll notice big variations in sugar content and with more in-depth knowledge, you’ll be able to choose the healthiest version. Experts say foods that are considered high in sugar have more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g – so avoid these. Conversely, foods low in sugar have less than 5g of total sugars per 100g.

Cereal Branded Tesco Sainsburys Waitrose Asda
Branflakes 14 13.6 12.4 10.8 12
Cornflakes 8 6.6 6.6 6.6 6.6
Rice Crispies 7.9 8.8 9.5 8.8 8.8
Weetabix 4.4 4.4 4.4 4.4 1.5
Cheerios 18 17 17.2 17 19
Frosties 37 28.5 34 29
Crunchy Nut 35 30.3 28.3 30
Coco pops 17 32.1 28 32
Fruit and Nut Granola 28.5 22.3 18.6 21.2 21
Swiss style Museli 21 16.4 19.3 19.1 14
Plain Porridge 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.1
Shredded wheat 0.7

To illustrate this clearly, The Rewards Project has collated a side-by-side comparison of the most popular breakfast cereals from leading brands and supermarket own brands to highlight how different brands offering similar products compare with overall sugar content. For example there is a large variance in sugar content between Tesco Coco Snaps 32.1g sugar/100g compared to Kelloggs Coco Pops 17g/100g – nearly 4 teaspoons of sugar difference. Fortunately, some big brands are responding to public awareness of sugar content in breakfast cereals by producing lower sugar versions such as Kelloggs recently reduced sugar content in Coco Pops by 30%, Cheerios has a low sugar option (4.7g/100g vs Cheerios Original 18g/100g), and Alpen Museli stipulates no added sugar (16g/100g vs 21g/100g)

Healthier alternatives

For those seeking healthier alternatives, choose breakfast cereals that contain whole grains and are lower in added sugars, fats and salt. Whole grain foods offer the added benefit of fibre and B vitamins with good examples such as:
• Porridge oats
• Wholewheat cereal biscuits / Weetabix
• Shredded wholegrain pillows / Shredded Wheat

Porridge is a great choice for a healthy breakfast, especially if unsweetened and using goats milk or water. You reap the benefit of whole grains fibre, plus no added sugar or salt. Overnight oats, which are prepared the night before and can be eaten hot or cold the next morning are delicious. Also try unsweetened almond milk as a sugar and dairy free alternative with some fresh fruit for some extra flavour.

Shredded whole wheat cereal with goats milk is the best choice of conventional breakfast cereals as it doesn’t contain any added sugar or salt, and is high in fibre. Avoid the ones with fruit fillings as they are likely to contain added sugar, or the ‘frosted’ variety which definitely contains added sugar. Adding fresh fruit such as banana or berries for sweetness is a delicious alternative.

Remember the bottom line is always check the label. Cereals marketed as “healthy” such as Branflakes, Cheerios and Museli have the same – if not more sugar than chocolate laden Kelloggs Coco Pops.

Some people just ditch the cereals, and go cold turkey. Another way to wean you off the sugary cereals is to cut down the lower sugar versions first. Switching to 50:50 also helps, for example half a normal bowl of Cheerios and half a low sugar version. Each day reduce the sugar version, until you are fully adapted to the low sugar version.

As soon as you lay off the sugary breakfast, you’ll quickly notice far more energy without the need for a mid-morning snack.

Thank you to Dentist Stewart Beggs for this blog.

How does sugar rot your teeth?

False beliefs

If you have decay you need a filling

Tooth decay hurts

You can’t reverse tooth decay


Teeth and in particular enamel, is the hardest structure in our bodies and along with our eyes, is the only tissue that does not regenerate. The Dental team are in your corner trying to help you preserve your teeth. They can also help you improve your health and wellbeing. Not only do we need teeth in order to properly digest our food but your dental team are often the first to diagnose diseases that show their first signs in your mouth! Oral health has a critical relationship to your overall health. People with poor oral health face higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, complications in pregnancy and childbirth, and other conditions.

If you are Diabetic you may not know that Diabetes can harm the mouth, and problems in the mouth make it harder to control your diabetes. Uncontrolled blood sugar can cause swollen gums, which disrupts the mouth’s natural defences and makes cavities more likely. That’s why oral health care is even more important if you have diabetes.

Teeth decay when you eat sugars frequently. The bacteria in your mouth eat the carbohydrates you feed them and produce acid that dissolves (demineralises ) your teeth. Your tooth is in a constant state of mineralization and demineralization. Saliva neutralises this acid but, do it too often and defences are overcome and your tooth rots! In order to damage the tooth it needs multiple sugar attacks over a sustained period. Your dental team can spot early decay and help you reverse it by fluoride applications, sealants and helping you change your diet. Brushing and flossing is not enough to stop this disease- it is down to genetics and sugar. We cannot choose our genetics so let’s tackle the diet!

Tooth decay is the most chronic childhood disease and is entirely preventable, millions of the nation’s children go untreated. Dental decay is the number one reason why children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital in England. Children had almost 43,000 “completely preventable” NHS operations to remove rotting teeth in 2017. Every year in London around 8,000 children had rotten teeth removed at a cost of around £1.75m per year.

When a child’s oral health suffers, so does school performance, because children who are in pain cannot pay attention to teachers and parents.


Top tips

Do not overdo the sugar

Brush twice a day

Pay attention to changes in your mouth- bleeding or pain- see a dentist

Take children to the dentist as soon as the first tooth appears.

Want to break the cycle? Take our 14 day sugar challenge to retrain your palate.

Take the 14 Day Challenge