Would You Pay Your Kids for Good Grades?

Updated on September 08, 2012
S.G. asks from Fort Eustis, VA
27 answers

I don't think I would ( and my oldest doesn't get letter grades yet) but I think this was "done" quite a bit when my husband and I were growing up. $10 for an "A" on the report card, etc. My husband, after he turned 16, had his car priviliges granted or revoked based on how well he did in school. I was just wondering how you all felt about paying for grades. On the one hand, you could say "well, school is the child's job, for all intents and purposes, and when you do well at your job, you get a bonus." And on the other hand, you could say "You are supposed to do well in school. If you don't, the natural consequences of that are punishment enough." What do you think?
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answers from Minneapolis on

No. Read "Drive" by Daniel Pink if you want to know much more about motivation, and how a lot of parents (and employers) do exactly the wrong things in trying to motivate us to strive for results. Intrinsic (internal) motivation is the only lasting type of motivation. A child needs to be motivated to learn, not to get money for grades. We are born with a motivation for learning. We parents just need to stand back and not de-motivate them.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on


She's expected to do her best work. all the time. every time.

She'll get *rewarded* for grades by what college she can attend and what job she can get after she graduates.

At this point (she's in 7th grade), I don't focus on grades AT ALL. I do discuss her tests and assignments with her.... but it's in more of a, so you're studying about vertebrates.... lets talk about that"... rather than, why did you miss 4 questions.....
If she has struggled with a topic, then we talk about that or I will help clarify directions.... but I would never be like "you got a B, so you're punished". I might say "seems like you're struggling in math more this semester... why do you think that is?" and then have a dialogue.

I may focus more on grades in High School - but the bottom line is that if she wants to do a good job and loves to learn.... the grades will work themselves out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I dont think it's a great idea entirely, because they shouldn't be taught that they will "always" get a reward, and do it just for that. But I see nothing wrong with a little incentive either, such as a special something at the end of the year if their grades are good. Everyone deserves a reward once in awhile right? And I believe that if it helps promote the good grades all year long, not just at the end of the semester or whenever grades come out. And it's not necessary but just something nice. Just my opinion though.

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answers from Dallas on

Totally agree with Jo!! I only had perfect scores, when I was given money. (And when I...um...fabricated the perfect scores.) Sure, I was smart enough to breeze through school. My parents knew this. I waited to breeze through, until it was worth my while! (Not proud of it, I was a dumb teenager.)

No, I don't think I'll be paying for good grades.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I am NOT going to pay my son for good grades. Grades are the byproduct of learning - not in any way a goal in themselves. LEARNING is the goal. The motivation to learn is that
1)learning is exciting and enjoyable
2) learning enables you to do more and solve problems - when you learn to read - now you can enjoy books. when you learn to add numbers, you can figure out problems.

I also have no plans to either bribe or punish my son for good or bad grades.

I NEVER want my son to think that we go to school to get grades. And I certainly never want my son to believe we get good grades to get money. Learning is something we do for life - if we set up children to be lifelong learners.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

No money for grades at our house.
For good grades and good behavior, I never tell him 'No' at the book store.
Come to think of it, paying him for grades might be a whole lot cheaper than what I'm spending on books for him.
But he loves reading and learning and he and his friends compete to see who can out 'A' each other.
Learning for learning's sake is the goal, and money can't buy that.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I hope I don't have to resort to that. I was never paid for grades and got straight A's.

That said, my daughters have way different personalities than I did. If I think they need a bit more incentive than they can muster internally, I may have to figure out an external reward system for them.

So, I guess I will have to remain flexible on this one.

ETA: After reading Sue W's reply, I may have to remain inflexible and figure out to encourage their internal motivation. Still, I've said "I'd never do that," and then as a parent did just that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Well, my dad paid for grades, I learned how to alter my grades to maximize the yield. :) When considering that I decided not a good idea to try that with my kids. :p

Here is the thing as I see it, if your child is bright enough to get straight As, they are also bright enough to game the system. If they are not then no amount of money will make them A students.

Seems kind of pointless, I just went with tell me if you feel you are sinking and we will figure it out. They did on occasion and I have straight A students so I guess it worked for my kids. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I didn't pay my kids for good grades because we couldn't afford to pay them for what the grades were worth.

My kids got several thousands of dollars in scholarships because I motivated them to get good grades. We did it with trips and the like.

We lived in Little Rock, AR. for most of our kids schooling. They had a dinner threatre there called "Murrays Dinner Threatre". They had new plays every 6 or 8 weeks. We bought season tickets and my wife and I really enjoyed the shows. I told my kids that if they got straight A's then we would take them with us (wife and I) to the dinner threatre. I think taking my kids to Murrays' was one of the biggest reasons my kids did so well in school. When we got to the threatre, I would tell the threatre management that my kids were here because they got straight A's on their report cards. The threatre management would recognize all the birthdays and anniversaries, then they would have my kid or kids stand up and receive their recognition for straight A's. Several times my kids with straight A's were given a standing ovation by the audience. You can't buy motivation like that. AND they told their brothers and sisters so the kids that didn't get to go tried all the harder so they could go the next time.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from Chicago on

Nope, destroys intrinstic motivation.

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answers from Washington DC on

This question always cracks me up when I think about my mom's system. She did pay me... but... I got $1 for each A... and only As on a report card, not for like As on tests or whatever.

I generally made straight As by the time I made it to high school, but I was maxed out at $6 every 18 weeks! Hardly an incentive :-/

A job well done is a job well done. It is important, developmentally, for adolescents to learn to be intrinsically motivated, and value the feeling of pride in doing something well rather than look for a tangible reward from their parents. As a middle school teacher, I make a point to actually stop and point out to kids "doesn't that feel good?" or "man, you must be proud of yourself" when they have that ah ha moment in class or master a difficult concept. I kind of hate it when I find out kids are getting paid for what they do in my class. I makes me want to stop handing back graded assignments.

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answers from San Francisco on

I don't think it's necessary. Doing well in school should be its own reward.

That being said, I don't think it's harmful to offer a little bribe, if it might help your kid be motivated to up his/her grades. However, for kids who aren't doing well in school, a reward that's months away is not usually all that effective.

I think if your teen is completely screwing up because they aren't doing their schoolwork, then it's fine to revoke car privileges.

Whatever works, ya know?

But good points from Sue and Dana.

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answers from Spokane on

The rule in our house is c's or better in order to play sports, hunt and drive. If you can't maintain your grades then you are over-extended and need to cut back....on the fun stuff.
My boys are still young so we don't pay per grade but do occasionally go to dinner or sky high and do something fun for a great report card. Not every time, so it's not expected.
For my SD we don't pay per grade either but we will randomly send her a "you did great" gift if she brought up a grade she was struggling with or has an all around good report card.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Well my mom decided to pay the grand kids for good grades.. They did not ask.. She paid them 50 cents for every "A" and 25 cents for every "B"

She practically went broke with our daughter. So after a few years of paying all of the grand children's grades.. Our daughter told me, "I do not think A.. should be paying me for my grades" I"I feel sorry for her." Hee, hee..

And so we told my mom, thank you, but grandchild was fine without the money reward, plus my mom is great about giving pieces of clothing, books, etc.. to the grandchildren..

Not the Nephew and niece still get their money.. They are now in High School.. Gosh knows what amount of money mom has paid out. But my mom does not tend to give them gifts, because their mother (my sister) usually says," no, the kids would never wear that, or they don't need junk. Save your money." Yes, these are the exact words she uses.. charming..

So before anyone starts this , make sure you realize how many grades your children will be receiving.. Here it is every 6 weeks.. Multiply that by the number of subjects.. It can really add up.. And in reality not every child needs this type of incentive, is it an incentive.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I think passing is the least that the child has to do but encouraging them to strive for an A due to a reward isnt a bad thing to me. I usually got mostly B's, some C's and a few A's. If I would have gotten paid for an A im sure I wouldn't have procrastinated so much and tried a little harder. I just knew if I got a D or an F there was major trouble. So I didn't get any. If it drove my child to do better yes I would pay them. Some kids think for the now the "money" driven kids, and there are ones who think long term scholorships/ jobs etc. If I had a now kid (which I do but he isnt on letter grades yet either) I would do my best to try to get him to give that extra effort.

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answers from St. Louis on

My parents paid for grades...but I was never motivated by the money. Nor was my sister, who overall got B's and C's (I mostly got A's and B's)..but it didn't motivate her to do better knowing she would be getting money. I think expecting money for grades is not something we will do in our house. A treat here or there, to celebrate a good grade on a hard test, bringing up a grade, all A's, etc will definitley happen but it will be on a surprise/as chosen by dad and I basis and not expected!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I found out about 4 years ago that my parents did pay my brother for grades. It was based on the "honor roll" though, not per grade. We had three semesters. I have no idea how much money he got as it was never presented as an option for me.

For my children, my parents started awarding my kids once "Honor Roll" was an option (their choice). I put the money they get into a CD for their future education.



answers from Las Vegas on

We offer incentives. Don't you like when your employer throws you a bone or two when you have done well?

My boss leaves me a $25 gift card four times a year for doing a good job. I have $25 of my own, but I look forward to the "Good Job!"



answers from New York on

NO. I wouldn't even consider it (they are in high school). It's my responsibility to provide a shelter, food, etc... it's their responsibility to get an education.

My kids do get bonuses for doing well. There are incentives for kids who make the honor roll. They get to go on field trips, you can't go if you are failing a class. A good report card is celebrated by a special dinner out, or going out for icecream, etc.


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, S.:

What a shock life would be to your child after being paid money for good grades, working around the house and/or yard by you, then in the real world, no compensation for hard work!

I don't know about you and your family, but I am not being paid for any of my civic duties that I give to my community. Just think if my family paid me for all the good grades I received in school, I would be devastated to no end for not getting anything for my service.

I already know, you do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. We are role models, some times you learn to feel good about yourself because you did the right thing. You know, personal self satisfaction.

Good luck.


answers from Hartford on

No, I won't pay my children money for good grades. I expect good grades because that's what they're capable of. When the girls perform to the best of their capabilities, they earn privileges. When they excel, they earn privileges that are out of the ordinary. They also get praise and compliments for a job well done, and they love the feeling of accomplishment they get from performing well.

I don't expect straight A's. I expect them to perform to the best of their capabilities. But I happen to know that my eldest daughter is honors material. Those are just the sort of grades she's used to pulling without much effort into it. If she puts in the effort, it's high honors.

We're big on natural consequences. But simply getting poor grades isn't enough of a natural consequence. There ARE consequences at home too. Not groundings, but loss of privileges. Not just "not earning" privileges but losing current privileges. Additionally, we increase study time and homework time, reducing social time and free time.

Those things are their currency right now. Would they like money? Sure. But it won't motivate them the same way privileges do. Social activities with friends and family are much more important to them. Besides, whatever they buy with their own money we would probably buy for them down the road anyway. It's just a different way of earning.

They do get money as gifts at birthdays, holidays, and special occasions plus their grandparents and great-grandparents love to hand them $5 for no reason at all, so they're not being deprived of the chance to figure out how to use it. We involve them in helping us with grocery shopping and clothes shopping and other types of shopping. We teach them about budgeting. Sometimes we bargain for a video game in regard to a large household chore.

So when it comes to school, money stays out of the equation.



answers from Washington DC on

Hmmmm, haven't thought about this type of thing in awhile. My parents actually gave me money for good grades, but it wasn't what motivated me (I'm not quite sure what motivated me actually!) I was a solid A/B student, went to college, graduated with a 3.2, and later on earned a masters degree. Did I do well b/c of the money my folks gave me in high school? I don't think so. But I liked it :)


answers from St. Louis on

Not at all. I was raised thinking that I went to school to LEARN, and then study a career, be a professional and be paid, and keep studying to be better professional and more successful. That is what I teach my kids, among other things, (they are homeschooled, but it is the same thing...) to study, learn as much as they can, and have a good career they love and make money with...if they do not study and don't do their part they just will not have many opportunities or alternatives in life. The kids know that is their responsibility as good citizens as well. Period.



answers from Baton Rouge on

I did not pay my child for good grades, nor did I punish her for bad ones. If her report card was all A's and B's, I took her to Baskin Robbins to celebrate.



answers from Charleston on

No I would not pay them with money. In our house it is their "job" to do well in school. Doing well in our house means all A's and B's because that's what they're capable of, and my daughter actually strives for this on her own. My son is just in kindergarten but already wants to know when he gets a report card because he knows good grades get something special. Their reward is usually a "treat" like ice cream or to eat out. We make it more of a celebration than a paycheck.

When an occasional C or D happens, I just try to make it a teachable moment and reiterate that they need to learn from their mistakes, double check their work before turning it in, study a little harder, and to ask for help from the teacher to better understand where they went wrong. You do this in a professional job when you make mistakes, so why not start in school?

Solid learning and studying habits formed in youth can lead to productive, confident employees in the future. That's my goal at least. :)



answers from Dallas on

Yes, we used to pay the kids for good grades on their report cards. They had base level expectations and when they outperformed base level, they got paid. It was to motivate them to work a little harder. Example: they knew we expected them to have at least all B's (including advance placement classes), but when they got A's or special recognition at school, they were complimented and then we also gave them cash. Usually they had a set goal of something they wanted and were working towards--a new gaming system or a trip somewhere.



answers from San Francisco on

My kids are in pre-school but I'm not planning on paying for good grades. I might do a celebration here or there but it would be more for effort vs a specific grade. People are wired differently and excel in different areas. If one of my kids turns out to really struggle in math, it doesn't seem helpful to only pay if he gets an 'A'. I'd rather have him feel good about doing his best even if his personal best is not an 'A'.

For an older child, there may be consequences if they are not effectively managing their time or doing their best. For example, if my kids are spending too much time goofing off (tv, video games, driving around when they get to be 16) and their course work suffers as a result, then there will be a loss of privileges. Or at least more controlled usage of the privileges.

I don't view that as a punishment exactly....just more consequences of not being responsible.

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