Poor grades in school can be frustrating, not just for the student but for the parents as well. To some families, a good solution is a monetary incentive — parents pay their kids for getting good grades in the same way they get paid a salary for working.

But while the payment may seem to work in the short run, bribing for grades actually impairs motivation, decreases a student's love of learning, discourages risk taking and creative thinking, and increases anxiety.

Inspiring young students to bring home good grades

When it comes to learning and education, children need to experience control over their academic success. When they see the cash at the end of the marking period, the only focus is the cash, not the intellectual rewards of working hard for a good grade. The bribed child may also be more likely to cheat or take the easier path through an assignment to receive his reward. Plus, the reward you give your child in seventh grade won’t be enough by 11th. So what is a better way to inspire your young student to bring home good grades?

  • Reward with praise, not cash. If your child slogged through a tough assignment ─ even if the end result wasn't an A ─ you could say something like, "I liked the way you stuck with it, even though it was difficult."
  • Make hard work the measure of success. If your child gets Bs and Cs but you saw him working and trying, make sure to give him encouragement for the effort he put in.
  • Celebrate good grades. Take the family to a favorite restaurant or a special movie night.
  • Support your child if he is having trouble. Encourage your child to seek extra help from a teacher or from friends. Look into hiring a tutor if your child is having an especially difficult time with a subject.
  • Model good work habits. Let your child see you reading, writing and working.
  • Talk to your child about what else is going on at school. Maybe there is a social issue that is getting in the way of studying.

Contributed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD

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