On the rewards idea for a middle school s
Actually, I don't recommend paying kids for good grades at all. Once you start down this slippery slope, you have to keep raising the stakes. And once kids get old enough to earn their own money, you lose leverage. Not to mention that this kind of deal doesn't always work.
Child psychologist Sylvia Rimm points out that for high-achieving students, money doesn't matter. And, Rimm says, kids who are underachievers fail because they're inconsistent. So if they slip and get a poor grade, they figure that they're not going to get the reward and give up. Even worse, parents sometimes end up paying them for half measures and the system backfires.
In my experience, paying a compliment is better than paying cash. Reward good grades -- or consistent effort -- by giving your kids a hug, a word of encouragement, or a spontaneous treat -- anything but money. That way kids learn the personal satisfaction that comes with a job well done. Sometimes money can be too powerful a motivator for parents to resist. But even then it seems to work best in small amounts and limited circumstances.
One dad I know came up with a set of financial incentives to reward his 11-year-old son for good study habits and improved grades even if the grades weren't As. But the boy was also motivated by a conscientious teacher and by his dad, who took an interest in his progress.
In every film about kids overcoming odds to reach a goal (think of To Sir, With Love, Stand and Deliver, Hoosiers, Coach Carter), the hero is either an inspirational teacher or a tough-as-nails coach who achieves success by holding the kids to a higher standard -- not by holding out a paycheck.