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Should Parents Reward Good Grades?


I am in Week 2 and I am already seeing improvements in my daughter! We have a long way to go, but she didn’t get this out of control overnight. So I have a question daughter just came home with 100% + bonus points on a Social Studies test that she normally wouldn’t have studied for and would have probably gotten a C or D. Molly is almost 14 and in 8th grade. She calls to tell me the good news and then asks me what her reward will be. I was not sure how to answer that. I told her she should just be happy with her performance (which she is), but she still keeps pushing for a reward. Should I give her something? She proposed we eat out at her favorite restaurant. I didn’t want to make the reward food, since she is overweight already.

You advice is appreciated.




Hi J.,

Typically we neither reward good grades nor punish bad grades.

Why? Because a built-in reward/consequence system is already in place.

The "reward" (after receiving a good grade) is the satisfaction a child feels by being successful ...the consequence (after receiving a bad grade) is the disappointment a child feels by doing poorly. Even though they may not admit it, all children feel a sense of disappointment when they receive a bad grade -- although they talk themselves into believing that the 'D' or 'F' is no big deal.

Another reason we don't reward good grades is because the parent's "reward" is usually a poor reinforcer. For example, if you said, "I'll take you out to eat if you get 100% + bonus points on your Social Studies test" you think she would work hard to get the grade? I don't think so.

You DO want to reward her, but with acknowledgment and praise -- not with over-indulgence.

When can you use "eating out" as a reward? She can earn the money to buy her own meal by doing extra chores.

Having said all this, if she brings home a great report card (e.g., all 'A's and 'B's), then it's O.K. to "pull a surprise" (i.e., you can take her out to eat -- but with no reference to the grades).

Mark Hutten, M.A.

1 comment:

GDOBSSOR R said...

Sorry, but I disagree. Some kids need a bit of motivation. For this girl, I'd have 2 charts. One with smiley faces for good grades and a sad face one for bad grades. Give her a reward once she gets to ten smiley faces, but take away electronics if she gets more than two bad grades in a week. Since this is the first time, I might reward her with something small like a new lipstick but tell her if she wants another reward she needs ten smiley faces.


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