By the Duke University Talent Identification Program
Ever offer your children money, gifts, or special privileges for every “A” they bring home on their report card? If you do, you’re not alone. Across the nation parents are rewarding their children for good grades in a variety of ways—iPods, video games, concert tickets, and even cars! But some believe such incentives take away the intrinsic value of learning.
Will kids continue to perform well when certain perks are removed from the equation? Dr. Virginia Shiller, a clinical psychologist and author of Rewards for Kids, recommends that parents reward their children for short-term (for example, grades on a project or test) rather than long-term progress (for example, end of semester report cards). In doing so, parents turn the focus to those small things, like effective study skills, that will have lifelong benefits to the child.
Dr. Shiller also suggests using incentives other than cash and material items. For example, consider planning a special trip or allowing your child to have a friend sleep over.
—Matthew Makel, PhD