A short rant about children being rewarded in PE lessons with lollipops

We were sat having dinner this week, doing the usual thing of ‘let’s spend quality time together as a family and try to sound interested about each other’s days.’

“What did you do at school today?” I asked Belle, (obviously. My fiancé is too old for school.)

“PE,” she said. “It was fine, I got a lollipop.”

“A lollipop?” I asked, surprised.

“Yes,” she said, “because I did well in the stretching exercises and sit ups.”


“You do well at a physical activity and they reward you with sweets?” I asked again, probably getting the redness in my cheeks that gives me away as being a bit pissed off.

“Yes,” she said again, clearly losing patience. “This one time, if we won a badminton tournament, we got a giant chocolate chip cookie. And once you complete the mile run you get toast and chocolate spread.”

Now is this just me, or does that seem just plain wrong? I’ve had one child or another in school for 16 years now, and it’s always been the same. I remember being aghast one day to get a letter home from Belle’s primary school, asking us to complete a permission slip for our children to taste exotic fruits that week. At no point was I asked my permission for their good work to be rewarded every day with Haribo.

It goes back to the point I made recently about this instinct to give sugar as a treat. I’m not saying I’m an angel, who only ever rewards her children with hummus – far from it, as you’ll see if you read that post – but surely the role of a school, of teachers, is to educate, to set a good example? 

Surely there’s another way to motivate kids to try hard at badminton, without having to resort to cookies?

Photo credit – Africa Studio/shutterstock



  1. 20 November, 2015 / 10:50 pm

    Yes, that is really wrong. I’ve always been wary of using food as a reward. Really shocking to hear that this is happening in a school. I wouldn’t be able to keep my trap shut about something like that ……. will you say anything to her teachers?

  2. 20 November, 2015 / 11:45 pm

    I have the same issue with my son’s school. For reading 30 books they climb up the beanstalk (as in Jack and the beanstalk) which they then get rewarded with a bag of beans (one time he did it and he got 30+ beans not just a few). Last Christmas I was shocked at the amount of sweets he came home with from his teacher. It’s a school which promotes healthy eating ie the exotic fruit offered for tasting and lots of sporting activities but they’re often rewarded with sweets!

  3. 20 November, 2015 / 11:48 pm

    Well, my immediate, knee jerk reaction would be to completely agree with you; but really – is it so bad?

    I’m in my forties and I have been cycling since I was 24. This week I have cycled about 175Km and I am now sitting here, full up and contented, after Haddock and Chips, a large bag of crisps, a larger glass of wine and a can of Guinness.

    I have treated myself to this after burning, say, 35oo calories this week on the bike, maybe its a little more than that, but you get the idea.

    So, why shouldn’t we be taught from a young age that treats are OK, so long as you earn them?

    Great blog. by the way. Thank you :)


    • 6 July, 2016 / 2:53 pm

      I kind of agree with you in a way. You could argue that it’s teaching them that sweets & chocolate, in moderation & combined with exercise is actually ok? Depends on what messages they’re delivering with it really

  4. 21 November, 2015 / 4:09 am

    Utterly bizarre – giving sugar as a treat for exercising well seems completely counterproductive. I didn’t know this was a thing! PS We love eating together as a family too… great for wrangling information!

  5. 21 November, 2015 / 7:17 pm

    I am beyond baffled. You don’t do badminton so you get a prize you do badminton coz badminton is what we’re doing today. I hated PE and I don’t think sugar would have made me love it, it just would have been a bit more sugar. The prize is being healthy right? Right?!

  6. Sheena
    21 November, 2015 / 7:30 pm

    During my kids dental health section of science,they were rewarded with a sweetie if they got the right answer…………no,seriously,they did!

  7. Hayley F
    21 November, 2015 / 10:05 pm

    Oh wow, i’m not surprised you’re fumming. I thought sweets and stuff were banned from childrens lunchboxes so i just don’t understand. They should be rewarded with stickers and they get something if they get so many. I’m guessing rewarding them with an apple won’t get kids motivated. X

  8. Sharon Arnott
    22 November, 2015 / 11:14 am

    Unbelievable! That is one of the most stupidest things I have ever heard. If that’s not sending mixed signals out to kids regarding exercise and healthy eating I don’t know what is. I wonder what bright spark came up with that idea.

  9. 3 December, 2015 / 11:47 pm

    I completely agree with you, My sons school once suggested that i gave my son more in his lunch box because they didn’t feel that the egg salad with pasta and fresh fruit was enough for him, I suppose they would have preferred if I had packed a cheese sandwich, crisps and penguin. I wish more than anything that they would start teaching our children about healthy eating, I feel really up against it sometimes my son just thinks I’m a witch for not allowing him sweets and fizzy and with no back up its quite hard. kerrie at http://www.yum-mag.com xxx

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