Growing up, children have very few responsibilities in life, make your bed, help with chores, be a nice person and do well in school. Given that doing well in school is really the only task throughout your day that requires any real effort, should we be rewarding our children for good grades? Something we expect from them anyway?
Rewarding Good Behavior
Rewarding a good, or positive, behavior isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People in general, do better in life when they receive positive reinforcement. As a working adult, if I only ever heard from my boss when I did something wrong, I would begin to resent our relationship and loath anytime he wanted to chat with me. We, as humans, like to know when we’ve done something good, or right, and always appreciate the acknowledgement of a job well done.
Not All Kids Are Self Motivated
Kids are no different. If you’re struggling to have them help with chores around the house, a simple reward chart that includes something small like stickers every time they accomplish something, is often enough incentive to have them work harder. Kids like to see how far they’ve come and how far they have to go. They are very visual learners.
Not all children are self-motivated. Some kids are innately self-motivated while others are not and need sticker charts for chores. I was always self-motivated and getting good grades for myself was all that I needed. I didn’t need my mom asking me if my homework was done. Of course it was. I motivated myself through life on nothing other than good grades and hard work, but most of my friends did not. Though my friends did well in school it was often because their parents helped them with homework every night and rewarded them at the end the year for a job well done in the form of a present.
There is nothing wrong with parents helping children with homework, on the contrary. I think it is hugely important to understand everything your child is learning for more reason than one, but I don’t know if rewarding them at the end of the year for a job well done is the right message.
Sending Mixed Signals
My concern is that if a child is rewarded with a present at the end of the school year for doing something we expected them to do anyway, they will maintain this mentality throughout life. As adults we know not all jobs have bonuses and rewards for simply doing your job. What job satisfaction will they have if they don’t get a bonus or reward? Shouldn’t we teach our children to be happy with a job well done and not have them expect a present?
My Thoughts on Rewarding Students for Good Grades
I am of the opinion that children should be taught to be proud of what they accomplish academically. That praise from family and friends should be enough. I don’t think it’s appropriate to buy a 5th grader a new bike because they finished the school year with good grades, as expected. Upon high school graduation, I think a gift is appropriate to acknowledge many years worth of work and effort coming to an end, and the movement into the next phase in life. Individual grading gifts are over the top though. At the end of the school year, have a nice family gathering and celebrate the end of the academic year and start of summer together. Congratulate your child for a job well done in non-monetary or material items.
For more on kids and their education check out these other great articles.
What is your opinion on grading gifts?