Parents paying kids for good grades in school is certainly not a new phenomenon. When I was in school, many of my friends and classmates got a certain amount of money for each "A" they brought home on their report card. In my own home growing up, my sister and I were both straight A students through high school and even our college years. When we brought the subject up of paying us for our good grades, our parents scoffed at the idea. The response was often that we would get good grades or we would be grounded from TV or lose some other privilege.
Money as a Motivator
The fact is that money is a strong motivator for so many people. The idea of earning more money makes many adults turn into workaholics. It makes us want to switch jobs so we can increase our earning potential. Many adults go back to school to increase earning potential. There are so many ways that money has probably motivated most adults over the course of their lives, and it likely has motivated you on occasion, too.
Yet the question that many parents have today is if money should be used to motivate kids to do better in school, or should doing your best in school simply be an expectation?
Each Child is Different
For some parents who have struggled to find a way to motivate their kids to show an interest in schoolwork, offering a financial incentive has proved to be beneficial. Some children are more driven by a positive motivator like money than a negative effect like being grounded from TV for getting bad grades. Each child is different, and so there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer. However, there are some considerations that parents should make today.
My Own Experiences
Most parents today likely either were paid for grades as a child themselves or they know a few kids who were. In my own experience as a friend and close observer, being paid for good grades didn't make the kids try harder. They still got the same grades they always did, but they got rewarded if they pulled off an "A." In my case, I certainly didn't want to go a full six weeks without TV or the use of the telephone, and so I did try my hardest to get an "A." The expectation of getting good grades was in place. It wasn't something that would be rewarded if it happened, but instead it was something that was expected. There were consequences if it didn't happen. These are two entirely different things, and parents should consider the differences carefully.
What Are You Telling Your Kids?
Through your own system of rewards and punishments, you are setting certain expectations for your child. My parents knew my sister and I were capable of getting straight As, and so the expectation was in place that we would work to our potential every day. Yet not every student is an "A" student. Some students are simply "B" or "C" students. Parents should consider what type of student their child is when they work their hardest, and then should consider establishing expectations at their level. Consider if you want your child to be rewarded for meeting your expectations, or if you want your child to know that you simply expect them to work their hardest and that they will face consequences if they don't.
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