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Should You Pay Your Child for Good Grades?

Should You Pay Your Child for Good Grades?

Should you pay out for every report card A and B? Many parents and experts feel very strongly about whether rewarding a child for good grades is helpful motivation or sends entirely the wrong message.

Yes: Kids Should be Rewarded for a Job Well Done

“If doing well at school is a kid's ‘job’ then isn't it only fair that they receive some recognition of a job well done?” Sharon B. asks. Many Circle of Moms members say yes to this school-as-a-job approach, contending that children should be rewarded for their efforts, and taught the connection between performance and pay. Tracie D. recalls: “I got paid for my grades when I was younger and it was a terrific incentive…My parents' rationale was that school was my job, so I should get paid for it. The harder I worked, the more I got paid…I know how much I enjoyed getting paid for my grades and how hard I would work to earn that money. It was very satisfying. So far my girls feel the same way.”

No: Monetary Rewards Send the Wrong Message

Others, however, say establishing monetary rewards for grades actually discourages a strong work ethic. Motivating kids with promises of money and gifts “kills their intrinsic motivation,” says mother-of-three Barbara R. “Kids want to do well just because they want to do their best…Once you start paying, they aren't doing their best for the right reasons. They're doing it so they can get paid. It also encourages materialism. Some positive attention will go a lot farther — and keep them motivated for life.” Sherri C. agrees: “I did a good job because I took pride in my work and I wanted to be proud of the job I did, not because I was getting money to do so.”


Maybe: Every Child is Different

Not all children have inner motivation to succeed in school, says Jane S.: “My daughter never needed a material reward. All she wanted was for me to notice and congratulate her. My son is a different story. He sees no point in school, hates to do homework, and would rather do anything except the basic work required of him. I do sometimes promise him a reward for a specific goal… It depends a lot on the child and how they perceive school…”

Tips for Rewarding Your Kids

If you do want to instate a reward system, moms and experts alike emphasize the importance of taking effort and natural abilities into account. Achievement in school doesn’t come easily for all children, and setting unrealistic expectations can end up being discouraging, rather than motivational. As Karen W. shares: “I feel that paying for a specific letter grade does not recognize that she has different strengths and could be a disincentive to continuing to work hard to master math, because she wouldn't get a reward anyway.”

For a middle of the road approach, some moms suggest rewarding kids with experiences rather than payouts. As Merende J. shares: "Compensation seems to motivate some kids, but it may send the wrong message...praise and encouragement are just as important. If you want to avoid cash payouts but still reward your kids for their successes, consider experiences instead, such as dinner out or a special trip. Experiences contribute more to lasting happiness than stuff does.”

Image Source: iPhoto

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