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SuperMouse's avatar

What do you think of parents paying their children for good grades?

Asked by SuperMouse (30842points) July 3rd, 2012

One side argues that school is a kids’ job and, just like adults, they should be paid for their job. The other side says that good grades should be expected and not paid for. Where do you stand and why?

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39 Answers

mowens's avatar

I had terrible grades in high school. I had average grades in high school. I am doing better professionally than people who cared about school.

School is a good basis for life. Not everyone gets everything they can out of it. I didn’t… but if I had… I probably would be in the same place.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I tell them it’s their paycheck, and my oldest’s grades really skyrocketed this past year.

I’ll go ahead and plagiarize myself from the other thread: I don’t mind employing that method. Like I said, I tell my kids this is their paycheck. They’ve both been good about saving their money for something special they want, and they’ve actually come close to spending it, then deciding, “No, I really want this other thing. So I’m going to keep my money for now.” By calling it a “paycheck” instead of a reward, and encouraging them to make their own decisions about what to do with said paycheck, they are apparently learning some valuable lessons about money management as well.

Edit to add: They’ve seen what I do with their daddy’s paycheck, like pay bills, buy groceries, buy them clothes, etc… they seem to both view their paycheck as a very important thing. I think they would see it differently if I just said, “Here’s your reward for making good grades.” I really believe that teaching them it’s a paycheck is what makes all the difference between your average bribe and something special.

wallabies's avatar

It could work…eg Steve Jobs in elem school.

YARNLADY's avatar

As part of various methods of encouraging children to do their best, it is effective. I did not like the grading system used by schools, and I mostly home schooled my sons.

deni's avatar

When I got my report cards in elementary school every quarter (I think thats how it was?) my dad would give me a certain amount for every A I got (or in elementary school every ”+”) and it was a huge incentive for me!! I’d say it helped and I can’t see why it’d be a bad thing. He did it for my brothers too and it was always the same amount, and I think as we got older and schooling got harder we got more money per A. It was cool.

SuperMouse's avatar

My sister did this with her kids when they were in school. I really have no idea if it had any if it helped their grades. I have never done it with my kids.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@deni Yes, my kiddos have a “payscale”, haha. They get a set amount for every A and B, nothing for Cs, and if they fail even one subject with a 69 or lower, they only get $1 for the entire report card, no matter if the rest of their grades were As or not.

My oldest worked her ass off this past school year because she really wanted those big checks (she wants to buy her own iPod Touch), and she made the A-B Honor Roll for the whole year. For her final report card, she not only received her regular paycheck, but she also received a bonus for the year long honor roll, sort of like some people get an annual bonus at work.

tom_g's avatar

Again, I have no idea what the “best” way is here, but here are my thoughts/approach: I encourage my kids to learn, and really only provide positive feedback when I see that they have worked hard to truly understand something. They know I don’t give a shit about grades. My daughter (going into 5th grade) is self-motivated to do well on tests. When she brings home her work, I ask her if she is happy with her grades, and she will let me know. Often, she is. She’ll tell me when she received a better grade than she “deserved” because she feels the test was too easy, and she didn’t really know the material, etc. We discuss grades vs. true knowledge, and how closely the grades really reflect the amount of learning that has occurred.

Anyway, the grades are for her to live with. She is very self-motivated and has never received a negative comment about her grades or effort.

Now, it seems to me that paying her for good grades would shift the motivation to be a parent-pleaser/money maker. I could be just spoiled because of my daughter. My oldest son will be in 1st grade this fall, so we’ll have to see how he does. He has some (potential) learning “disabilities” (delays) that we have been dealing with, but our approach has been the same. He is expected to put in real effort and really understand what he is learning.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@tom_g The whole “learning disability” thing is what had me so proud of my oldest this last year. She has ADHD and the previous two years, made mostly Cs, and even failed a few classes. She did a complete 180 this past year and totally rocked it!

Sorry to derail with that, I’m just a proud mommy!

bookish1's avatar

Sounds like a good idea to me. In school, kids often get derided for being nerds.
I was just made to feel like less than nothing if I got anything lower than A’s. Er, worked for me, but I’m not convinced it’s the best way to raise kids.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I’m a fan of positive reinforcement whenever possible. This seems like a good way to get kids to look forward to getting good grades, instead of simply fearing getting bad grades.

mowens's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate @tom_g Now, I am not saying one thing or another about any one persons child. But, I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was in Kindergarden. (1989) Akk throughout grade school and high school, I struggled grade wise. I has people following me around telling me to do my homework. I found it more entertaining to evade them, than to do the homework or to study. School and it’s subjects were boring. Tests were boring. I actually retained a lot of information, but I discovered that if I did poorly on the tests, everyone wouldnt make me work so hard at stuff I hated.

So I didn’t. Then it came time for college. A time where, I get to choose what to study, and what I am interested in. All of my teachers tried to talk me out of it. They told me I wouldnt stick with it. What they did not account for… was me picking something I was actually interested in. Not only did I go to college, after a semester I got a grant to pay for most of it. My GPA in Highschool was 2.5, I barely got in to college. I graduated with a 3.5 in college.

My point… if your child is smart… dont let them settle for what they think is a good thing. I learned at a very young age that if I didnt try hard, I wouldnt have to do harder work.

Just food for thought.

SuperMouse's avatar

@tom_g I have had the same conversations with my kids about whether they think they got the grades they deserved. I figure it helps keep them from blaming the teacher or think something is unfair when they have to look at their part. I also think it is a good way to get them to think about how much effort they put into a test or assignment.The other question I always ask is whether they did their best work. Usually they are honest and admit it if they didn’t work as hard as they could have.

One of the problems with paying for grades in my house is the inequity. My oldest could practice for hours and hours and hours and still struggle with a spelling test. My middle son doesn’t even have to look at the list and will always ace the test. It doesn’t seem fair to me to reward the mid-size for something that he can just phone it in without any work at all, while denying the full-size when he worked his ass off.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@mowens Yes, I get that point of view also. I try to compensate for the “boring” stuff in school by encouraging her to choose the right electives that she will really enjoy.

tom_g's avatar

@mowens: “My point… if your child is smart… dont let them settle for what they think is a good thing.”

I get what you’re saying, and thanks for the insight. But regarding my daughter – I have found her crying because she got 2 wrong on a science test. When I asked her what she was upset about, she explained to me that she knew the answer, but misread the question. Note: Despite the tears and beating herself up, she received a 94% on the test. But back to your point – I don’t want her or my other kids to “settle” – it’s just that the emphasis is on learning the material, not the grade.

mowens's avatar

@tom_g That being the case I agree with you. I just meant, as a child, missing a question on a test never bothered me. Looking back, I wish it had.

mowens's avatar

I jsut re-read my first post. Forgot to proofread. :)

Silence04's avatar

it’s a form of Positive Reinforcement, and that is a good thing. As long as it’s not being held as punishment for not having good grades.

However, I would argue that only providing money as the token of a good deed will cause a child to only relate success with money. Adulthood is much different than childhood, there is plenty time to instill workforce ethics and I don’t believe that should start as a child. A child should have a balance of other positive reinforcements, such as positive emotional response, celebratory actions, etc.

marinelife's avatar

My parents used to reward me for a good report card with dinner out just me and them.

wundayatta's avatar

Academic research is apparently mixed on this topic. In this study, the author found that if you pay for grades or test scores, there is no relationship between pay and output. However, if you pay for specific tasks, like completing homework, the pay can make a difference.

The researcher Alfie Kohn has written a book that marshalls research and logic showing that while manipulating people with incentives seems to work in the short run, it is a strategy that ultimately fails and even does lasting harm.

This educator is very concerned about paying kids for grades because she believes it teaches kids that we value them for what they do, not who they are. She says kids need to be valued for who they are, not what they do.

This last point resonates strongly with me, because it was very clear to me as a child and young adult that my parents wouldn’t think much of me unless I saved the world —or at least made a lot of money. They did not seem to stress the things they looked like they valued: like relationships. They had many good friends and loved each other a lot, but they never seemed to give me approval for my success in relationships. None of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was looking smart and making a certain amount of money.

Since I failed at those things, I felt like a failure in life. Eventually, I had to learn that I needed to let these ideas about success go if I was ever to shed this depression that threatened to kill me. Or rather, I found a way to give up those ideas and then I got a lot happier, and that’s what saved my life.

I was never paid for grades, and I did all right. I do not pay my children for grades. In fact, both of them were sent to schools that didn’t give grades to avoid this very problem. My daughter switched to public school for 9th grade, and of course, they have to grade there. She has a 4.04 GPA, so far. This is the best high school in the city, and people take a lot of AP and honors and MG classes. Grades for those classes are weighted upwards and that’s how you get GPAs higher than 4.0. I don’t know what the highest GPA is. She thinks it might be upwards of 4.2. All those kids, she says, are Asian. She asked one of them what he does for fun. “I read textbooks,” he said.

I expect my kids to do well. But I don’t want to put too much pressure on them, because I don’t want to do what my parents did to me. Finding the right balance is a work in progress. But I don’t think money or pay is necessary, nor do I think it desirable, for reasons stated in the research and articles I cited. We can achieve our goals simply by being clear to our children what is important to us, and by helping them achieve these goals.

Blackberry's avatar

It doesn’t matter, either way. You have to remember that some portions of America don’t necessarily care about gaining knowledge and wisdom. For some it’s only about making the grade.

Aethelwine's avatar

We’ve never paid our kids for good grades. Every child and family is different so I can’t really say if paying is a good or bad idea. Our children grew up watching my husband and I read and they all started reading at a young age. They enjoy learning. Getting good grades at school and getting awards and praise from their teachers, peers and us seemed to work just fine.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@jonsblond So true! Every child is so different in regards to schoolwork, and what works for them and what doesn’t. I don’t mind, either way, as long as I found something that works for my kiddos. =0)

Silence04's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I am honestly shocked you didn’t say you give your kids chocolate for good grades.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Silence04 Haha! Naw, I have to limit their sugar intake, or they’ll destroy my house. :D

Mariah's avatar

Good grades aren’t really the desired outcome, caring about learning is the desired outcome. And paying kids to get good grades doesn’t achieve that outcome.

Relevant funny.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

We tried it with my step kids but it didn’t get results as we had hoped for a lot of reasons:

*The oldest was a straight A and advanced classes kid who was aiming for early graduation and college scholarships so the money wasn’t of much interest over her own.

*The kid we wanted to see the most improvement in told us flat out there was nothing that would motivate him- he didn’t care about things or money… or grades.

*The youngest is the only one who stayed at the table to ask more specifics on how he could earn money and he’s the one who is improving. The $ reward was for A’s & B’s, we’d give him $50. for each B and $100. for each A. No A’s yet but there are some B’s and he’s great a saving up money and budget shopping which we see as skills in themselves.

disquisitive's avatar

I don’t think parents have to pay their kids for anything they do. Good grades is just expected. It’s fine to sometimes give a child a $10 or $20 if they are older when they bring home an excellent report card but they should not be promised it or expect it. Parental expectation is everything in raising kids. They want to please you so set the bar for them.

ragingloli's avatar

I think it teaches the wrong message.
It makes the kid grow up with a purely materialistic mindset. “Do things only if there is money to gain.” As soon as that “motivation” falls away, they leave. They will be unreliable, disloyal, untrustworthy.

Earthgirl's avatar

I agree with @tom_g.
I like that he focuses on his child’s perception of what they learned, and how hard they tried. I think it would make me think about how I could improve or do better rather than focusing on an external reward and an external measure of success or failure. Yes, the world turns on external assessments of how we are doing, but they will be dealing with that soon enough. I think we should start out by being able to look at how we can contribute to our own success or failure by how hard we try and what we do right or wrong.

I like to think of rewards as being based on negative or positive motivations. Negative motivations are to avoid punishment or to “show someone up” to “beat” the other person in competition. Positive motivations are to be our best selves, to contribute to the world, to help others and to reach our utmost potential. Success can be measured by many things and there are many people who aren’t financially successful or acknowledged yet contribute great value and beauty to the world. I would want my child to feel valued for who they are not just what they achieve in measurable terms. I want them to have an internal locus of control. I don’t think money should be the motivation for learning. I think curiosity and love of learning should be valued and instilled in children.

augustlan's avatar

I have mixed feelings on it. If it were completely up to me, I probably wouldn’t do it. However, my ex does reward good grades with money. He doesn’t set it up with the kids in advance… so it’s not necessarily expected, and it’s not always the same amount, but he does it. I wouldn’t say it has harmed or helped, honestly.

ucme's avatar

I don’t, although now that I do, I think it’s entirely up to the individual parents.

gorillapaws's avatar

It feels wrong to me. I think it’s important for kids to learn about money from an early age, to encourage saving and get a good work ethic. I think their income should come from doing chores around the house, and the grades should just be expected of them. They should want to better themselves and push for self-improvement. If this isn’t happening then it needs to be addressed in some way (and money isn’t going to solve that problem).

fluthernutter's avatar

My husband used to get monetary incentives for his report card. Something like:
A’s—> $10
B’s—> -$5

I don’t think it really does much in the long run. Both he and his younger sister had the same incentives, but they basically performed to their natural ability.

Personally, using money as a reward makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want them to have an association between learning/trying/sucess and money.

I also agree with @Mariah. Good grades shouldn’t be the bottom line. Actually caring about learning is way more important.

bkcunningham's avatar

Seriously, no offense to anyone. But, my parents would have laughed us off the face of the earth trying to negotiate a contract with them. They were old school. There were two of them and eight of us. I was still afraid of them. Well, I respected them I suppose more than I was afraid. But there is a mighty fine line between respect and fear.

fluthernutter's avatar

@bkcunningham Pulling good grades because you’re afraid of your parents isn’t a much better alternative to pulling good grades for money.

It’s an extreme example for sure, but a kid that went to high school with my husband killed his mother when she threatened to tell his father that he had flunked out of school. Not to say a little bit of fear is going to turn your sweet kid into a raging sociopath. I’m just saying it’s not the healthiest incentive.

bkcunningham's avatar

I was only spanked once in my entire life, @fluthernutter. I was more afraid of disappointing my parents, to be honest. I was just being funny. I loved my mother like the sweet morning sun and my dad is still around. He’s a saint. I wasn’t afraid of them like that. Just afraid of disappointing them or having to hear one of my dad’s lectures on life.

fluthernutter's avatar

@bkcunningham Just afraid of…having to hear one of my dad’s lectures on life.


bkcunningham's avatar

My dad is 41 years older than me. He’s a WWII veteran and he could give you life lessons without you even realizing what he was doing. When I was younger, I didn’t have a great appreciation for his wisdom. I always wanted my dad to be proud of me though. His wisdom was more in stories you were required to listen to. And when you listened you had respect and asked questions.

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