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Paying Kids for Good Grades: It's not about the Money (Part II)

Posted by James Lehman, MSW

Is paying kids for good grades a good idea? An article in USAToday this week mentioned that some states are getting in on the act–and paying students for good academic results.

In my home, we had a system where if our son got on the honor roll, he got a monetary reward—one we could afford. Not one that was a stretch for us. If he didn’t get on the honor roll, he didn’t get punished. He just didn’t get the reward. And I asked him, “What did you learn from this?” And, “What are you going to do differently next time to make the honor roll?” We focused him on the steps to take to get the reward next time. That fit our family just fine. Yes, we used money. But this is a decision that has to be made on a family by family basis.

Rewards motivate kids reach their goals. It’s that simple. Rewards need to be things kids understand and value. The reward should be child-focused, and parents should have a menu of things that their children like and will work for as an incentive to teach performance and achievement. There’s nothing wrong with money. If you have it to give, use it as one of the items on the menu. The fact is, we all work to get paid. We look to sources outside of work to develop personally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We try to better ourselves to be better rewarded. There’s nothing wrong with that. What does your child value? More one-on-one time with you? A movie outing with friends? 15 bucks? Create the menu with your child and offer the reward he values. It will keep his eyes on the prize and give him a way to meet his goals that he will understand.


About James Lehman, MSW

James Lehman, who dedicated his life to behaviorally troubled youth, created The Total Transformation® Program, The Complete Guide to Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™, from a place of professional and personal experience. Having had severe behavioral problems himself as a child, he was inspired to focus on behavioral management professionally. Together with his wife, Janet Lehman, he developed an approach to managing children and teens that challenges them to solve their own problems without hiding behind disrespectful, obnoxious or abusive behavior. Empowering Parents now brings this insightful and impactful program directly to homes around the globe.

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