February 3 2017
featuring Julie Gunlock
I recently overheard a seven-year-old say that many of her peers in the first grade get $20 for a good report card.
Should parents open their wallet to say “good job” to a child?
If you currently pay your kids for good grades, that’s fine. If you don’t, that’s fine, too — it seems there is no correct answer on this question. The personality of the child, and what motivates her, need to be considered.
“Payment will work for some kids, but others need a different kind of encouragement,” Julie Gunlock, senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), told LifeZette. Gunlock is also the author of “From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back.”
It comes down to knowledge of that child, said Gunlock. “Parents are the best arbiters of what motivates their kids to perform well and accomplish certain goals.”
One mother who is opposed to paying her children for good grades is a blogger named Holly (no last name given). She believes good grades, in and of themselves, are the reward. The same goes for the praise a child may receive from teachers and peers.
"Paying kids does not make them smarter. Some kids just cannot make an A or B no matter how hard they work," said this blogger. "Kids may also focus on the money, and not school."
I see this point. Parents who pay children for good grades risk their children eventually thinking they have to receive something in exchange for what they're expected to do — that is, go to school and graduate. Parents also risk their children growing up thinking they are entitled to things. (Have you seen millennials out there lately?)
Even if she were to dole out dollars for As and Bs, this blogger said grades last forever. The money would be spent as soon as she gave it to her kids. Meanwhile, she does give her kids an allowance for chores.
"I do this because I want to teach them about money and budgeting," she explained.
Yet money is precisely why some people pay their kids for good grades. In their minds, school is their child's job, and if Mom and Dad earn money for work, why shouldn't the kids be paid for their endeavors? Moreover, workers are offered incentives for meeting certain expectations, so shouldn't the same be offered to students?
"I pay my children because it incentivizes them to maintain high grades," wrote Lynette Khalfani-Cox on AskTheMoneyCoach.com. "It can actually save our family money in the future."
"High-achieving students are more likely than other classmates to earn scholarships and merit-based aid when they enroll in college," she explained in her blog post entitled, "Here's Why I Pay My Kids For Good Grades." It's all about motivation. "Paying kids for good grades can give them extra motivation to shoot for those high marks."
Those with tight budgets need not worry. Gunlock of IWF pointed out that rewards do not have to be in the form of legal U.S. tender.
"It could be a big hug and a high five," said Gunlock. "Sometimes it's just an ice cream cone, but on other occasions it might be some alone time with a parent."
With a husband and three boys, Gunlock said one-on-one time can be rare. "Sometimes it's a little extra game time or a special dinner. My kids like to choose their reward, so it's always different."
Here's a thought: How about giving children rewards on occasion — and telling them why they're receiving it? If your child starts to expect these rewards, then take a break from giving them out. With a sensible attitude and a good understanding of what motivates each child, parents need not feel guilty whichever way they go on the "green for grades" debate.