Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kids & Grades: Do You Offer Your Kids Rewards for Good Grades?

I vowed I'd never do it.

"There's no need to," I reasoned. "It's just expected that they'll do well."

"Why should I bribe or pay or reward my kids for good grades?" I asked. "Doing well in school is the kids' job and, as long as they try their hardest, I'll be okay with that."

Then I changed my mind on this hot-button parenting topic upon which there is no consensus.

Hypocrite, table for one.

My evolution on this matter began last month when I was driving the kids to school one morning and we heard the subject being debated on a local radio talk show. Two out of the three Picket Fence Post kids thought that offering some sort of reward or treat for earning good grades was a simply marvelous barnstormer of an idea. The one, bless this child's heart, said that payment and/or a reward was unnecessary.

However there's a child, whom I shan't identify, who could use a little help in the motivation department when it comes to academics. Providing something tangible -- nothing big, we're not talkin' a flat screen TV or an iTouch or anything like that -- just might help incentivize this child and could ultimately prove beneficial, I thought, revising my earlier no-money-for-grades point of view.

I decided, without telling my offspring in advance that I'd gamble and see how this scheme would play out. I had to keep in mind, however, that if I offered an incentive to one kid, I'd have to do it for all three of them, so whatever I did, I'd be setting a precedent. (It must be noted that The Spouse was not on board with this plan, at all, though he said he wouldn't stop me from making this my private deal between the kids and me.)

The new era of throwing a little somethin' behind my hearty congratulations for good grades began this week when The Youngest Boy got his report card and fared well. I told him that I was proud of him and that, as a reward, I'd take him out for ice cream after dinner, along with any other kid who happened to be home at the time. (The Girl was at basketball practice, missed out on the ice cream and was mighty steamed.) When we got home, I quietly slipped the kid a 10-spot and told him, "Good work." (The Spouse rolled his eyes when I told him what I'd done.)

Last night I made The Youngest Boy completely re-do an assignment because I said he'd just phoned it in and not tried very hard. He didn't disagree with me, in fact, he smirked a little when I called him on it. And he re-did it without a fight. The beginning of a new era indeed.

What do you do about good/bad grades?

Image credit.

1 comment:

  1. As a child, my brother and I routinely brought up the injustice of not being rewarded for bringing home all As with an occasional B. Our friends were drowning in dollars from $20 for an A, $10 for a B, etc. My parents simply asked why we should be rewarded for good grades when that's what they expected of us--we were capable learners and we SHOULD be getting good grades.
    Now that I have children of my own, I have to admit I take the same stance. I tell my kids that their brains are strong, they are capable learners, and there's no reason why they shouldn't be performing well. I think kids rise to the occasion when adults expect something better of them (like your youngest and his assignment).
    That's not to stay we operate a strict no-reward regime around here--I think taking them out for ice cream is a great treat to share together (is that instilling unhealthy eating habits in them, so they associate sweets with any celebratory occasion?). Ugh--there are many ways to mess up your kids, so clearly I'm not preaching that one way is better or worse than another.
    Good for him for striving harder!