Should Parents Reward For Good Grades?

by denny hagel on November 17, 2011



Do you reward your children when they come home with their report card and have earned good grades?

In order to motivate their children to succeed in school, many parents promise a reward for good grades. One dollar for every “A” was the going rate when I grew up, but, today I hear the price has increased considerably for those who offer monetary rewards!
Then there are parents who feel strongly that rewarding for good grades is counter-productive. They feel children should not need to be rewarded for doing what is expected of them. For some, rewarding them sets them up to only do their best when something is promised in return.
My parents were somewhere in the middle.
We were taught that part of our responsibility as children was to attend school and do our very best. My parents were very clear that they expected each of us to make our education a priority in our lives. It may sound strange but it was understood that everyone in our family had a “job”…Mom and Dad provided for our needs and hopefully some of our wants financially through our family business and as I heard my Mother say numerous times, the children were in the “business of learning”.
However, we were held to a standard that coincided with our ability. They made a point each year to meet with our teachers and share with them what they expected…from them and from us. My parents always insisted that the teacher report their opinion of our performance in the comment section provided at the end of the report card. I remember some years the report cards gave grades for conduct and effort. This made my parents very happy because this is what they were interested in.
We were not given rewards for letter grades like our friends. That’s not to say we weren’t congratulated and celebrated for our achievements, we were. However, the focus of our report card was not necessarily the letter grade attached to the subjects. My parents would have each of us read aloud the comments the teachers would write.
“Denny is an excellent student who perseveres consistently”, wrote my math teacher in 6th grade. I received tons of praise from my parents for that comment. I remember the exact wording to this day for two reasons. One, because I had to look up the word persevere in the dictionary and two, because I received a letter grade of “D” which landed me in math summer school that year!
Not much was made of the fact that I received a “D”. I understood that my parents were very proud of me for trying my best and at the same time I knew it was important to learn how to multiply and divide fractions and decimals!
My parents saw their role as supporters to help us achieve our personal best. If our attitude and effort were 100 % we were rewarded for being good students, sometimes with a trip to the local ice cream parlor for a banana split and other times a family day trip to beach.
Regardless of the reward, in retrospect, the best part was always seeing the pride and joy in my parent’s eyes when we would share what was written in the comment box.

“Children raised with unconditional love are
automatically motivated to do their best!”

Denny Hagel is a child advocate and parent coach, devoting over 25 years to the success and well being of all children. She is the published author of over 60 articles on parenting, many of which have attracted international attention in over 24 countries.

Denny was blessed with forward thinking parents who raised her with an understanding of her value as an individual, her innate power to choose by way of her thoughts, ideas, opinions and beliefs, thus, instilling in her a strong sense of personal responsibility for what happens in our lives

She is the founder of Awakened Parenting LLC, a company dedicated to helping parents release parenting paradigms of the past and consciously choose to raise their children to approach life with a positive mindset and strong sense of self. It is Denny’s passion to combine what she learned through her formal education in early childhood education and psychology and what her parents instilled in her and pass this on to all parents.

Denny has created the discussion group "Awakened Parenting Discussion Forum" on Face Book which now has over 600 members.  She does on line coaching with parents and teachers who consult her on a regular basis. Denny collaborates with counselors, authors, coaches and others working in the parent coaching field. Denny Hagel is the author of the newly published "The Missing Secret to Parenting", "The C.P.R. Program for Parents & Teens: Conflict Prevention/Resolution Formula", "Mini-Me Syndrome" and two free e-booklets Parenting Using the Law of Attraction and Becoming an Awakened Parent".

  • Victoria Gazeley

    For me it’s not about what’s expected, but what will build the most sense of accomplishment and ability to take on more and more difficult tasks as my son gets older.  I want him to enjoy doing well for how it makes him feel, and what he can do because of his new skills, not because I, his teacher or society expects him to perform in a certain way.  Sure, we have certain milestones that children are expected to meet, but my personal belief is that the minute we start putting rewards in front of children for doing well in school, the motivation becomes the reward, not the learning.  Same goes for chores, helping others, etc.  My 2 cents!!! :)

  • Jennifer Bennett

    As a child, it was always nice to be rewarded for a job well done. Actually, even as an adult it is still nice to be rewarded for a job well done. My parents were in the middle also…they seemed to know exactly how to balance out the rewards when it came to grades. I’m also grateful that when I too received a D in math, my parents didn’t do what so many parents do-freak out. We talked about it and worked through it. That I am forever grateful for!  Thanks for bringing up this topic Denny. Great article!

  • Hughie Bagnell

    Great timing Denny! Report Cards out today…I believe in the balanced approach similar to your parents … the ‘business of learning’ is awesome!!! Thank you, Hughie

  • Anastasiya Day

    Yes, as a child,it was always nice to be rewarded for a job well done. When I was at school, my mum always used to say – “Well done”…even now she often says to me “Good job” :) I am very friendly with my family… I don’t have kids but I always say to my niece “Well done”….and it makes her happy and valued. Great article!

  • McKenna Gordon

    I love this. I would give much more encouragement and reward over a C that took a lot of hard work and perseverance than I would over an A that was easy. And each of our children will be different. If we have one child who naturally excels at math, then I would expect an A because it would be easy to achieve. But if that same child struggles with history and english, then I’d reward a lower grade as long as they tried their best.

  • Olga Hermans

    I like this Denny! As a parent you cannot praise a child who has a “sloppy” B compared to the child who worked hard for a C. As a parent you know where your child is and to motivate them to achieve more is to praise them in the areas they are good at and challenge them in the area’s that are difficult for them. But we never should demand from them the utmost when they are not able to do that.

  • pamela wright

    I love this article, Denny! 

  • AJ

    Great insight!
    It can apply to the business world also;)

  • Cheree Miller

    Denny, you hit the nail on the head with the motivation. For me it was not wanting to disappoint my parents, but wanting to make them proud. Rewards and punishments were nothing compared to how I thought I would make my parents feel.

  • Claudia Looi

    No, I don’t usually reward them for good grades. I believe in putting the best efforts and doing school work with excellence more than  grades.

  • Naomi

    I like the idea of rewarding for good grades but I also like it for trying hard or doing their best. Just becuase a child has not done well it does not mean they have not tried hard.

  • Lori

    I do exactly what your parents did. I am proud of my kids  as long as they worked hard and I know they did their very best! It is our job to make sure our kids work to the best of their abilities. Thanks Denny!

  • Solvita

    Love that ~ thanks Denny:  “Children raised with unconditional love are
    automatically motivated to do their best!”

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