Q:

We now pay our smart middle-schoolers $10 for every A and $5 for every B. They used to get mostly B's, now they usually get straight A's. Is there anything wrong with this? -- Paying for Grades

A:

Of course, as you know, there are pros and cons on the issue of paying for grades; however, in your household it is working and everyone is getting the results that they are looking for.

If children buy into getting better grades because they want a reward (money, TV time, a cell phone), one positive outcome is increasing their skill in one or more subjects. This can lead to a feeling of accomplishment and can create a genuine desire to do well in school and an appreciation of learning.

Rewarding children for grades can backfire if children already have a desire to learn. They may begin to think that they are working harder primarily to get a reward rather than to do well in school. However, if children have little or no desire to succeed in school, rewards may get them on the path to doing well in school.

One caution: If parents expect rewards to improve grades, they must offer rewards for grades that the children can reasonably be expected to achieve. A child with good basic math skills could be offered rewards for A and B grades. However, the child with weak math skills should not be expected to get more than C or possibly B grades.