Should Children Get Paid for Grades, Chores?

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I wish I had an answer to this one. We resorted to paying for grades when the twins were dismally performing in middle school.

Our rate is: $1 per C, $2 per B, $3 per A. But if you get a D (or god forbid, an F) you forfeit all monies.

We really haven’t paid out all that much money. Even if they get all As, it’s still only $23 a shot.

I’ve never really thought about it. It was just an incentive. Since kids like money, let them do the work to get good grades. I don’t think this is the solution for a child who’s struggling in school. But for the under-motivated, it should work. Theoretically.

I’ve been thinking about this because I came across this piece. Here’s an excerpt:

My latest RALPH goes to Susan Reimer, a “motherhood” columnist for the Baltimore Sun. Reimer’s July 10 column is titled “Paying for good behavior is worth every penny.” In it, she advocates paying children for good behavior, chores, good grades, practicing an instrument, attending supplementary classes, going to museums and other educational activities, and doing homework.

The author disagrees with Reimer and her pay-for-everything theory. I agree with him.

Kids should learn that not everything is done to get something in return. Lots of things in life are done because it’s the right thing and not because you get something in return. As parents, isn’t this one of our primary jobs: raising children who recognize this.

Basic manners are a great example of things that need to be done without expectation of rewards. We hold doors open for people, offer seats to the elderly, help others with packages, help our neighbors, etc. We shouldn’t be doing this because of all the great things we expect in return. We do them because this is how a society should work.

I spend a lot of time grousing about how children seem so very different than they did even ten years ago. Yes, part of this is because I am aging. (Shut up! Stop laughing!) But some of this really does stem from the fact that we’ve become a very egocentric society.

Parents of my generation have traded in families for stuff. We’ve sacrificed our children for bigger houses, cars, and televisions. Now a columnist is advocating treating children like employees with employee incentives.

Except children aren’t our employees. They are simply our children. And it is our job to mold them into decent adults.

Decent doesn’t necessarily mean money-making, famous, reality-star aspiring people. It means raising these future adults to be aware of and kind to the people and things around them. It’s getting the message through to them so that they carry your message with them when they leave the house without you.

There are some lessons your children can only learn from example. I think manners and good will are two of them. If you tell your kids to open the door for people, but are pushing through life as if you’re the only one alive, what lesson will they learn? Trust me, it’s not going to be hold a door open. It’s going to be that they are too special to watch out for other people; they deserve special treatment.

We could make the world a much nicer place if we were all just a little bit more courteous and aware of one another.

What do you think? Is it right to treat kids as if they are employees in need of incentives?

4 thoughts on “Should Children Get Paid for Grades, Chores?

  1. Love, love, love this post!! We will give our kids money for chores that go above and beyond what we’ve asked. But NEVER for chores that are simply everyday life things. Like dishes, laundry, taking out the trash. We will pay them for washing Dad’s classic car and helping out in the shop. Things like that. We’ve never much paid for grades. However when our 6th grader came home with all A’s, my husband did whip out the old wallet and give her $5. Our son came home with A’s and one B and didn’t get anything. He did however say, he was going to try for all A’s next time.

    Our kids know that they won’t always get paid, and we’ve taught them to respect others. I would never pay them to show respect. That is something that should be a given–it’s called being a decent human being.

    Excellent post.

    btw, my book released today, if you’re interested, it’s available here:

    And I’ll be in touch soon. Again, love this post…I’ll retweet.

  2. I have really struggled with the whole allowance system and money as a reward. For us, it doesn’t work. My kids would much rather forfeit their money just to get out of doing chores, getting good grades, pretty much doing anything. Maybe they are too young to appreciate the money factor, but I have recently started giving them an allowance just because they are part of the family and need to learn how to handle their money better. They are still expected to do their “chores” around the house, but they aren’t compensated for this. They can, however, earn extra money if they go out of their way to do help me out. I’ve been using the Three Jars system ( and it seems to be working out really well for us.

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