Paying your kids for good grades may not be as effective as parents think.
Jared Durtschi, an assistant professor of family studies at Kansas State University, said while monetary compensation for grades may be effective in some cases, parents should be aware it could also decrease their child's motivation to perform well in school.
Weber State University child and family studies department chair Paul Schvaneveldt said he agrees with many of Durtschi's points.
"Monetary incentives don't work in the long term and only have a short-term impact in a few selected areas," he said. "Eventually, the monetary incentive wears off and becomes counterproductive to developing self-motivation."
Paying children for good grades is not the most effective parenting strategy because, ideally, children should become internally motivated or desire to earn good grades on their own, Schvaneveldt said.
"One problem with bribes or rewards with children is that you have to constantly increase the reward to have an effect. For example, $10 may be a sufficient incentive for a child in fifth grade to earn an A, but I doubt it would have any impact on a 12th-grader," Schvaneveldt said.
"Thus, one would have to constantly increase the rewards to have an impact. Plus, research shows that children who are promised money for good grades are more likely to cheat than children without such bribes," he said.
Research also shows, he said, that money is not effective in improving grades, though it may have a small impact on behavioral issues, such as attending school or wearing a school uniform. A 2010 Fryer study in New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Washington DC distributed more than $6.3 million in incentives to 38,000 students. They found the monetary incentives had no impact on grades. They found that even a large reward of $500 did not have much impact on academic achievement. The money did provide an incentive to attend school and to wear a school uniform, but it did not affect actual grades.
Schvaneveldt said parents can help by appropriately recognizing their children's efforts and hard work and by setting an example for them.
"Show children that you read and learn as well. Provide them with opportunities to learn from their own experiences, and don't rescue them when they struggle," he said. "In other words, let them experience the outcomes of their choices, even if they are poor choices that result in a temporary setback."