Rewarding Children for Getting Good Grades: Pros and Cons

Many parents tend to reward their children for getting good grades with gifts or prizes. This might not always be positive, however. In this article, discover the pros and cons of rewarding children for doing well in school.
Rewarding Children for Getting Good Grades: Pros and Cons

Last update: 17 April, 2019

Rewarding children for getting good grades can be both positive and negative. Many parents resort to reward systems to ensure that their children get good grades. However, is it right to encourage children to get good grades with rewards?

It’s very important to praise, applaud, and congratulate children when they get good grades, but never to bribe them with gifts. Your children’s only responsibility is studying, which is why you should recognize their merits and support them even when they fail. However, make sure the end goal isn’t a gift or reward.

Keep in mind that, if your children get good grades, you could also celebrate with their favorite meal, make a cake to share with the entire family, or go to the movies to watch a film they like.

Rewards for getting good grades: pros and cons

Remember that buying your children material things isn’t usually the best way to reward their efforts. Teach them to work hard. This way, they’ll feel proud of themselves for working hard to reach their goals.


  1. Positive reinforcement. Rewarding your children for a good effort or recognizing it with an ice cream cone or an extra hour of video games is positive. Although you should try to reinforce positive incentives more, you don’t necessarily have to do it with gifts and rewards.
  2. Immediate results. Behavior can be changed quickly and effectively, both with negative and positive reinforcements. From an early age, your child usually responds to such methods with actions. However, it’s essential to make sure this doesn’t become the only way to direct their behavior or motivate them, as it’ll slowly lose its effect.
  3. Discipline. Although using rewards and punishments can help encourage discipline and good behavior in children, parents should never rely solely on this technique. It may work well in certain situations, but what happens when there are no punishments or rewards?


Rewarding Children for Getting Good Grades: Pros and Cons
  1. Annuls their will. If you instill discipline in your children based solely on rewards or prohibitions, they won’t understand the true value of discipline. Instead, they’ll just listen to you to earn a prize or to avoid punishment.
  2. The pursuit of results just to get something out of it. This can happen with school grades when children put gifts or rewards before learning. Perhaps they don’t want to be punished or want a new toy. To achieve it, they might resort to cheating or memorizing things without really learning anything just to pass.
  3. The focus is only on rewards. If children act only according to positive rewards or negative punishment, they lose sight of the real goal. Thus, they may concentrate more on the results of a test than on what they’re doing and learning.

Arguments for and against rewarding children for getting good grades

Arguments in favor

  • If you give your children a gift, they’ll learn that effort and perseverance yield good results. Gifts help children stay motivated.
  • However, if you decide to give them something for their good grades, you have to assess whether it’s suitable to give them material things. Perhaps you should congratulate them or give them a hug or a kiss. Your children will be very happy that you’re recognizing their work and effort.
  • Although there’s nothing wrong with rewarding your children’s effort, the ideal thing is for them not to expect it. This way, they’ll understand rewards as the results of their work and not things they should always receive. This way, they’ll remember the importance of hard work and perseverance.
  • You can also use gifts as incentives when your children begin to lose their way. Try to make sure they take the gifts as motivation. It’s best for children to work hard every day and not just when they’re going to be rewarded for it.

Arguments against

  • Children need to understand that studying is their responsibility and that getting good grades helps to ensure a bright future. Don’t let them get used to always getting rewarded for their achievements.
  • Gifts can be counterproductive when children believe that you have to reward them when they study, even though it’s their responsibility to do so. As time goes on, they’ll just require more and better gifts or rewards.
  • Rewards can’t be used as end goals. Children may interpret rewards or gifts as meaning they have to study to get something in return. Thus, you run the risk of them believing that gifts are inherent to the end of each trimester or school year. Giving gifts will no longer be effective if they expect them even when they get bad grades.
  • Promising them presents for passing all their classes can also be detrimental because it may make children feel like failures if they don’t reach their goal.
  • Giving them time and affection is much more effective. The most valuable things you can leave your children are values and a solid foundation for their adult life. Material things are momentary.
Rewarding Children for Getting Good Grades: Pros and Cons

You have to be aware that children sometimes may deserve a gift for getting good grades or punishment if the opposite happens. The important thing is to make sure that rewards aren’t the only way to motivate them to get good grades because it can annul their will to do well on their own.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.