5 on a Friday

April 16, 2021

1- Wait But Why‘s Tim Urban is a fascinating human with fascinating ideas. It took me a solid 30 minutes to read his latest Q&A post. But I have to say, it was better than my usual (prior) Insta scroll.

(And if you haven’t seen this post of his . . . I highly recommend checking it out.)

2- More Angela Duckworth! You guys, my obsession with her is only growing. I just love the way she thinks, her ideas, and her overall vibe. She is interviewed by Steve Levitt on the most recent Freakonomics ep: How To Manage Your Goal Hierarchy. Of course . . . I love the idea of a goal hierarchy influencing what we do.

(Also: I’m not sure I’ve ever actually read her book, Grit!? Ordering now.)

3- Do you reward your kids for good grades? Annabel had an excellent report card and informed me that many of her classmates are getting paid — either per card, or per grade.

I told her we would do something to celebrate (ie: Dairy Queen) but something just feels not-quite-right about paying for grades. On that note, some dad on the soccer field last week was going on about how he paid his kids for goals + assists. This also seemed . . . wrong. Am I missing something?

(And what would Angela Duckworth say about this?)

4- I did order a Simplified Daily to try! I went with Happy Stripe. I used a $10 coupon to soften the blow a bit (though shipping was ~$10, just a warning!).

Pretty! I used a $10 coupon from Amanda’s Favorites (listed in her notes here)

Now I am left with an orphan month though since my Day Designer ends on June 30 and this one doesn’t start until August. I will probably jump into a Full Focus I have lying around because why not. It’s very easy to switch daily planners (weekly, less so).

5- For the record (and to offset yesterday’s rant) I just feel I have to report that the kids were SOOOO much better last night! Not perfect, but better. I will take it.

HAPPY FRIDAY. It is a chock-full one for me but I am looking forward to the weekend (JOSH IS OFF!). Anticipating soccer/tennis + swimming. ALOS I have a bike now, so probably some family neighborhood rides (G goes in a hitch on Josh’s bike).


  • Reply Jessica April 16, 2021 at 6:40 am

    Paying for grades is a common family debate between my husband and I (our oldest is not yet 5, so, it’s a hypothetical debate as of right now). My parents WOULD NEVER have EVER paid us for grades! It was an expectation that we work our hardest at our schoolwork and that was that. They would gladly assist us in cashing in outside rewards (see: our annual family Pizza Hut dinner with report cards in hand) but would never offer any sort of reward themselves.

    My husband received a small amount of money for A’s on report cards – maybe 5 dollars an A? He’s not super invested in the practice for our kids, but he’s not opposed to it either. We also have an identical debate and family history re: paying kids for chores, although he’s more passionate about that argument.

    He reports that he was an A/B student and the money did motivate him to try harder to get those A’s. My three sisters and I were all valedictorians with straight A’s through high school. The evidence seems clear to me! Haha.

    Probably related: my husband is a Questioner and 3 of my sisters are Upholders (only the youngest is an Obliger, so perhaps she felt obliged to keep those A’s?)

    • Reply Erin April 16, 2021 at 9:50 am

      Your parents were very much like mine. Good grades were expected. They didn’t necessarily expect straight As, but that I tried and did my best. I was a good student, so this really wasn’t ever an issue. We did go out to Dairy Queen to celebrate but that was it. I did have a few classmates in high school that were paid but back then I always thought it was a little weird. Looking back and thinking about the particular students, I could see how some parents may have used this a a last ditch effort to get them to actually do their school work.

      We’ll most likely follow the ice cream celebration route for our kids.

  • Reply Helena Murphy April 16, 2021 at 6:56 am

    Get “Grit” on audiobook! If you like listening to her on NSQ you will enjoy having her read the book to you. I also prefer physical books and picked it up from the library as soon as I got hooked on NSQ (holy cow that show is perfection!). I also placed a hold on the audiobook and realized I loved to hear her narrate it. It felt like bonus solo episodes 🙂

    • Reply Emily April 16, 2021 at 9:39 am

      I also read Grit on audiobook! One of the few audiobooks I have been able to retain interest in (I am just not really an audiobook person), really enjoyed it.

  • Reply Janelle April 16, 2021 at 6:59 am

    We went out for dinner after report cards when we were in the tail end of elementary school to celebrate a job well done. And I think a reason to go out because we ate out very rarely. But my brother and I always got good grades and my sister was quite a bit younger. I can already tell I have two very different kids and won’t be rewarding good grades with money- what if one kid gets good grades and the other doesn’t? Just not something I want to start.

  • Reply CBS April 16, 2021 at 7:05 am

    Oh no, absolutely not, hold firm and don’t pay for grades. My parents would take me for dinner or ice cream, but honestly, good grades were expected. And the dad paying for goals? Way to teach your kid to be selfish and externally motivated.

    Your bike is super cute! Cycling has been a pandemic highlight for me, and now I am quite happy cycling all over town – basically anything under 4 miles, I’ll do on the bike. I often pass this runner who just looks so, so miserable, like she’s gritting her teeth the whole way and I want to (but won’t) suggest cycling as an alternative form of exercise. I just think it’s so much harder to stick with something you hate. Do I burn as many calories as running -nope! Do I really relish my exercise and thus do it every day – yep!

    • Reply Gillian April 16, 2021 at 7:13 am

      This! The goal is intrinsic motivation to do a good job just because you always put forth the best effort you can.

  • Reply Gillian April 16, 2021 at 7:12 am

    I really cannot justify paying for grades–or any other accomplishment. My personal preference is that the grades are their own reward. I want my kids to be intrinsically motivated because not every great thing you do will be rewarded monetarily. Besides not all grades are created equal–for my son a B+ in English is much more of an accomplishment than an A+ in math. We sit with each child and review their report card and praise effort, voice our pride and discuss what they need to work on. And that is it.

    It helps that my kids don’t get letter grades until 6th grade. In elementary school they use a system of exceeds grade level, at grade level, approaching grade level and below grade level. They include a section on “behaviors that promote learning” and we really focus on this section heavily. If that section is all exceeds or at grade level I don’t care so much about a couple areas of approaching grade level within the core subjects.

    I really liked the book Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine for think about how to approach school and learning with kids.

    • Reply CBS April 16, 2021 at 7:29 am

      I do have a confession though. My son was having a hard time with the potty at nursery, just being quite lazy about interrupting his play, despite being fine at home. I bought a Schleich stegosaurus, put it on top of the fridge, and told him if he had 5 dry nursery days, he could have the dino. My husband raised his eyebrows but the extra laundry/mucky clothes were annoying, especially when I knew he could do it (fine at home with us and overnight)

      • Reply Lori C April 16, 2021 at 7:35 am

        I agree with you- no paying for grades but we did a reward chart for staying in bed when everything else failed!

  • Reply Cara April 16, 2021 at 7:20 am

    Absolutely no way for any paying for grades/goals/whatever (personally I even dislike little kids even knowing about grades/seeing their report cards). Totally the wrong message and there is a ton of evidence around rewards actually diminishing a child’s interest in tasks by killing off intrinsic motivation. Listened to a great podcast ep recommended by a friend the other day that spoke well to this (and behaviourism in general); The Think Inclusive Podcast (episode 18 March interviewing Alfie Kohn).

    • Reply nicoleandmaggie April 16, 2021 at 2:56 pm

      Alfie Kohn tends to take actual academic research and then makes conclusions that aren’t warranted by the research. I really hate the way he does that. He has no sense of nuance and I’m not entirely sure that he understands what he’s reading or if he’s just deliberately misrepresenting it because that has been what he has done his entire career– even including when I was a kid. When I was talking to my mom about some of the crazy things he was saying about giving opinions/praise to your kids she was like, is he still around, back when you were growing up…

      So… there’s a grain of truth in what Kohn says about praise (or homework or whatever his latest money making lecture circuit is), but he takes it to far far extremes. And I briefly hung out in a group that took what he said as gospel when my oldest was 3 and those kids were dangerously terrifying.

      As an academic he makes me cringe so hard. It’s awful when good research is misrepresented so much.

      this guy says it much better than I just did: (The title is hyperbole, but it’s imitating Kohn’s own hyperbole.)

      • Reply Cara April 16, 2021 at 6:26 pm

        I’m sure many people would agree with you, he certainly doesn’t hold back and has a pretty abrasive tone. The friend that shared that interview with me is an academic in special ed. Her opinion, which I share, is that in an environment that is incredibly focused on compliance and behaviourism someone who has some strong views at the absolute other end of the spectrum is worth something. For the majority of kids a little praise/some reward systems might not do damage, but for some kids who are constantly up against that system it is emotionally harmful. I appreciate that Kohn (and others like Rose Greene and Mona Delahooke) go to bat against the system in support of the damage done to some. But paying your kids for grades or soccer goals I doubt would be anything any parenting/education expert would endorse.

        • Reply nicoleandmaggie April 16, 2021 at 7:49 pm

          In general, if you go back to the original studies that Kohn extrapolates from, they don’t fully support his claims on pretty much any topic. Which I did back when we were living in a place where a lot of people preached his gospel– looked up the articles he was talking about and determined they didn’t actually support his extreme recommendations. It’s a harmful gospel when taken to extremes like he does. There’s no evidence that any praise is harmful (some evidence that some types of praise given in some ways etc.– I think Duckworth talks about this too), even for the sub-groups that you’re talking about. There’s no evidence that some homework is harmful (there’s evidence that too much homework of some types is harmful). I can’t remember the other stuff he talks about. But, like the article above says, he takes studies and then extrapolates to crazy points that are not actually supported by the research he’s citing. You can dig back too and see!

          It’s quite possible other people in education also need nuance, but any extremes without evidence are dangerous and should not be used for policy recommendations. I’d rather everyone had nuance and think about the external validity of the studies they’re citing than “researchers” extrapolate to extreme ends on the opposite of some spectrum. The points he makes could be made in a more believable, less dangerous, way. And if we’re talking about motivation stuff, Duckworth gives a much better picture that actually gives a fuller explanation of the research than does Kohn. He’s more interested in telling a story than in reporting the limits of the research. I just would not recommend him to parents or to the casual listener. Or anyone, really, except I guess someone like your friend who knows he’s extreme but wants to counter some other extremist?

  • Reply Lori C April 16, 2021 at 7:32 am

    I just read the Wait But Why post you linked about remaining days before 90 and WOW. Eye opening. Making plans with my parents seems pressingly more important, perhaps on a regular basis.

    And I will never be paying my kids for grades. Different strokes for different folks but I want my kids intrinsically motivated and not working towards a buck.. I feel like that sets a bad example for life, because I certainly don’t want them choosing a career solely based on money, there should be some intrinsic motivation of some kind.

  • Reply J. April 16, 2021 at 7:36 am

    My parents “paid” my brother and me for good grades in books. An A got you your choice of any book; a B gave them a veto. I loved going to the bookstore and picking them out; we usually relied on the library for our reading material, so it felt like a special occasion. The only things we got paid cash money for were extra chores (we did not get an allowance). We don’t pay our son anything for good grades, but he’s nine so it’s not really a thing yet.

  • Reply Sam April 16, 2021 at 7:59 am

    I can’t speak to paying for grades as a parent, since my daughter’s not even two yet. But as a teacher, I got rid of classroom rewards a few years ago, and I have loved it. A big influence in my decision was listening to Stephen Pinker’s book called “Drive” after listening to him on a podcast. I highly recommend the book, and it seems like one you might enjoy since you like Angela Duckworth.

    • Reply Helena Murphy April 17, 2021 at 9:35 am

      Hey Sam, I also read that book (as well as his other one “When”, on the relevance of timing). It’s by Daniel Pink –

      • Reply Sam April 17, 2021 at 11:49 am

        Oh thanks for catching that I’ll update the post.

  • Reply Laura April 16, 2021 at 8:24 am

    My brother is 2.5 years older than me (and was three grades ahead of me). He was not a motivated student, and though he could do well if he tried, he didn’t try. So, my parents decided to pay him for grades beginning in middle school. I’ve always been an intrinsically motivated kid/now adult, but to make it fair, they paid me as well. It didn’t affect how I was motivated at all, but it was a nice bonus! I think if the student is already motivated on his/her own, adding an incentive wouldn’t typically remove that intrinsic motivation. However, I also don’t think it helped my brother find enough motivation to do his best in school, either. (Granted, there were also substance issues present in his case.)

    • Reply Irene April 16, 2021 at 9:27 am

      I am really against paying kids for grades, although it’s still mostly hypothetical at my kids ages. Two main reasons:

      1) my oldest is a super anxious perfectionist. We are constantly working with her to just do her best and be proud of her work (I think I have mentioned our “praise the effort” mentality in the past). We would be dramatically undermining that if we paid for a “perfect” outcome that is not fully under her control. I have a pretty fancy graduate degree but to this day I can’t spell very well. Not sure I have some type of actual disability (I have several family members who are dyslexic so it would not be crazy surprising to me if me brain was a little different in that regard). I don’t think I ever got a top grade in spelling despite working at least 10x harder to try and memorize my words than all other subjects combined. In general I felt my parents handled it pretty well and I’m really grateful. It has also been a great lesson to me that a lot (not all but a lot) of my academic success is just down to luck of getting some good genes.

      2) if grades are the only thing you reward with cash, it sends a really strong message about what you value. My daughter is really strong academically but really needs to work on other things that come more naturally to some other kids. I want her to know we value her work on her other goals as much or more than academics.

      • Reply Gillian April 16, 2021 at 9:57 am

        Exactly. My son has dyslexia and so reading a book and writing a paper about it is so much work for him. I NEVER want him to think that all that work wasn’t worth as much as the math or science test he breezed through just because the grade wasn’t as high. I think his hard work in a subject that is difficult for him because of his learning differences is going to benefit him much more in the long run than that great math grade even if he becomes the engineer he plans to be. He is going to encounter difficult problems in life, but he will feel more confident tackling them if he has tackled something hard before and completed the task.

  • Reply Hannah April 16, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Treats sure, paying no. If you pay $5 an A now they will want a lot more down the line, first off, and also, everything about. Grades are their own reward, learning intrinsic motivation is the goal, etc. Unlimited specific praise and hugs of course.

  • Reply Erica Sparky April 16, 2021 at 9:26 am

    We do not pay for grades, that seems a little odd. We like to celebrate with ice cream and pointing out the areas of growth and really praising that. I had great report cards as a kid and didn’t get paid. I like fostering innate rewards. Enjoy your bike, we go on a lot of family rides!

  • Reply Natka April 16, 2021 at 9:31 am

    Thanks for the links!
    We have 3 kids in school, 1st through 6th grade. We don’t pay or give any kind of rewards for grades. Actually, in our school district, elementary school (K through 5th) doesn’t have grades at all, just “meets expectation”, “exceeds expectation”, “below expectation”, stuff like that. We try to celebrate end of school year in some way (ice cream outing or gifting books) but it is not tied to grades, just a celebration of moving on to the next grade level and “yay! summer!!!!”

    I don’t know if it’s wrong or right to pay for good grades – I suspect it would highly depend on a family and circumstances.

    Paying for chores – again, depends. Our kids don’t get allowance and they don’t get paid for doing most chores, but there are certain “jobs” they get payed for. Cleaning bathrooms is a paid job (because I don’t want to do it and I’m happy to pay someone else; we used to outsource house cleaning pre-pandemic). My husband has some yardwork-related jobs that he pays kids for – hauling wood up the hill, pressure-washing the fence, stuff like that. Kids are expected to pitch in around the house (doing dishes, sweeping the floor, cleaning up their rooms, cleaning up after themselves) without any monetary rewards.

    Parenting is hard: I feel like I’m “faking it” most of the time, pretending like I know what I am doing… I often second-guess all these parental choices I’m making.. According to my kids, most of their peers don’t do any chores at all and we are over-working them. They seem OK to me – they have plenty of time to play and do fun stuff – but who knows…

    • Reply Natka April 16, 2021 at 10:10 am

      Oh, and that bike is super cute!!! Have fun!

      • Reply Brooke April 17, 2021 at 7:45 pm

        I was a straight A student, and the only report card that ever got hung up on the fridge was the one where I bombed my final exam and got a D. My mom choose to celebrate that I did not need to be perfect. Honestly, now with a kid with challenges, I reward effort, not result.

  • Reply Emily April 16, 2021 at 9:38 am

    I absolutely did not get paid for grades, though I heard other kids did. It was just the expectation we would study hard and learn for its own sake (we all generally got good grades but my mom claimed what she cared about was not the grade but that we were trying) and not ‘extra’ that should get paid for. I don’t have kids yet but I’m pretty sure I will do the same.

    Also in high school I heard that a girl on my cross country team (who was very fast) got paid by her dad for running extra/on the off-season, and she ended up quitting because she didn’t like the sport so that probably says something.

  • Reply Kat April 16, 2021 at 10:38 am

    I didn’t have an allowance or get paid to do chores until I was 14. On that birthday, we went to a bank and got me a joint debit card paired with my dad’s. I got an allowance (I want to say $50 a month?), but there was a way to make more. I was responsible for going online and paying 3 bills – water, electricity, and garbage. I had to request the bill amount, and if I did and paid on time, I got 10% of the bill as extra spending. If I was late, the late fee was taken from my next allowance. So I believe there’s a way to get paid for good habits.

    I also never got paid while I was an A/B student in elementary and middle school, though I did have a few tutors for language classes.

    I did get paid per A and A+ in high school. I suspect because I discovered romance novels and just wanted to do that all the time, and had poor impulse control to make myself study. It worked decently, mostly because I wasn’t good at all subjects, but I could definitely get at least 2 As. It’s easier since I was an only kid, so no need to generalize rules.

    I don’t have kids, but I I could see paying my kids. After all, I get paid as an adult, and if I excel and learn I get more…

  • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 16, 2021 at 10:40 am

    It just occurred to me that the school all 3 will be at starting next year has no grades until middle school so thankfully this will be a moot point!!!

    • Reply Helena Murphy April 17, 2021 at 9:49 am

      That sounds like another huge benefit of having all 3 go there! A school without grades eliminates two issues in one fell swoop: the intrinsic issues related to using an always imperfect grading system (and kids being stressed or solely motivated by it) AND the whole rewarding/celebrating discussion. We also have our 5yo son in a Montessori school. As a child who was unhealthily motivated by grades (just the grades in themselves; there was never a reward, just praise from parents) I see the absence of grades as yet another positive aspect of an “alternative” school. So much of adult life demands efforts that aren’t rewarded with an A written on a piece of paper, let alone with cash! Why would we want to reward our kids in those ways?

  • Reply Diane C. April 16, 2021 at 10:54 am

    I think there is a difference between celebrating an achievement and rewarding it. We will do ice cream or special dinner or movie for good grades, and I feel like the nice thing about that is then the whole family gets to celebrate the achievements, not just one person.
    One thing this pandemic has really changed for me is the emphasis I put on grades. Watching my third grader really struggle with distance learning has made me realize that, especially in elementary school, what I want her to learn is merely the basic organizational and attention skills to pay attention in class and turn her assignments in on time – commitment is more important than content right now. So I’ve stopped vocally caring about her grades- which has been very difficult as a child of immigrants. And you know what? She still gets pretty good grades, which I find shocking for the level of work she does. Needless to say I’ve become somewhat disillusioned with many things this past year.
    Years ago, I read Rob Lieber’s book The Opposite of Spoiled and one of my big takeaways is that there is no one right way to handle money with your children, but how you treat money as a family needs to come out of the values you want to message. He had a really great point about how to handle pan handling that really changed my view of the subject.

    • Reply Kate April 16, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      Diane, I might be reading into what you wrote, but I also have become very disillusioned by some things related to school over the last year. I work in schools and have recently read a book about our antiquated in-equitable grading practices, which has made me even more disillusioned to the point where I have to bite my tongue sometimes. My son is only in 2nd grade and he has begun to show stress about grades. They only use a 3 tier scale, and no “real” grades but it’s all still the same. I was bothered by his stress because we have NEVER talked about grades in our home beyond using it for information on what he needs help on or what he already knows. That tells me the stress has already been built by the school system. Oh boy, I feel myself getting worked up already so I’ll stop there 🙂

      Anyway, my uncle told me he’d pay me for grades and I don’t think he realized what he signed up for. I have to give him credit, though, he dutifully paid throughout my education! My parents did not and would have laughed in my face. Good grades were expected, but I was a “good kid” who “did school well” so it wasn’t hard for me.

      I think it’s a great idea to celebrate successes and grades can be framed as such. But also, please keep the lens on that, at the end of it all, they are pretty much BS.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 16, 2021 at 8:44 pm

      This is fascinating and I definitely am interested in reading that book. I also like the distinction between celebration and reward.

      • Reply Christine April 17, 2021 at 2:27 am

        Yes! I feel like the distinction between reward and celebration is exactly it! I have very fond memories of celebrating good report cards or other kid-life successes with something like “let’s go take a walk in (the neighboring small down that had a cute main street area) after school” which my brother and I knew would probably involve a) playing by the river at the end of the street and b) a cookie or a roll from the bakery. We loved this little tradition and others like it, and it always made good grades or other achievements feel that much more special. That said, very occasionally, if there was some item we’d been pining after and saving up for (a toy or, when we got older, a computer game, or a non-essential clothing item), my mom might subsidize the amount we were still missing as a reward for, say, a truly spectacular year-end report card, or finally overcoming some fear that we had or similar. Somehow that still feels different to me than just being handed cash $$ in exchange for grades, but maybe it’s not?

        In any case, I think she walked that fine line between celebration and reward very well – for example, when once, in a fit of pre-teen rage, I informed her that I was no longer planning to study so hard for good grades, she told me “well, of course I’ll be sad for you if you decide not to work hard at school anymore, because I think those good grades make you very happy. But you don’t have to do it for me. Your grades have to be for you.” (Which at the time just made me even rage-ier because of course she was right, and pre-teen me wanted nothing more than to just win the argument!)

        For comparison… looking back, this seems totally out of character for my mother, but I guess she just reeeeeally wanted us to do piano lessons: after the first year of piano lessons (during which it was still novel and fun) she started taking us for a donut after every lesson, and when we got older, sometimes even McDonald’s instead (a very rare occurrence otherwise, and so a powerful reward!). I’m not saying my brother and I continued to take piano lessons just for the donut/fast food, but… we may (definitely) have been nudged to continue past the expiry of our natural interest in piano. We both quit by my first year of high school, though. Tellingly (in my opinion), that was the activity we chose to drop while keeping our other ones, which involved no rewards, treat food or otherwise. It’s also interesting for me that the main one I kept was ballet, because while our piano teacher was a lovely and nurturing grandmotherly-type lady, my ballet teacher was a terrifying martinet about whom I very occasionally still have nightmares. (I’m 35 and haven’t seen her in a good 15 years.) Of note: there was one time, in third grade, when I desperately wanted to quit because the teacher was scary and I was awful at ballet, but my mother told me I had to finish out the year because you don’t quit things in the middle. For some reason, that did it, and I never wanted to quit again. (I don’t have kids yet, but good lord I really hope I can be even a fraction as effective at it as my mother!)

        Anyway, I’m sure there were myriad other factors involved, but it’s funny to me that the one thing my mother explicitly bribed us to do is the one we dropped!

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 17, 2021 at 7:24 am

          Love hearing this! Your mother sounds like she did an excellent job. I also agree about not quitting in the middle. If you’ve signed up for an activity, you finish the season / set of lessons / whatever.

  • Reply Katie April 16, 2021 at 11:20 am

    I hope you like the simplified planner! I got one a few years ago, but since I don’t need a daily planner every day I just ignore the date at the top and use it as I need. I think I’m in April so it should last a while. 🙂

    I know every family operates differently but I think ice cream is an awesome way to celebrate grades. I would also feel weird paying my kids for their grades.

  • Reply Kersti April 16, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    I always had good grades but was never paid for them. I don’t think money would have been a good idea, but I wished my parents had acknowledged it more or perhaps taken me to McDonalds or something to celebrate. I guess I think celebrating accomplishments is a good idea. Not sure about “rewarding” them however.

  • Reply RH April 16, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    I grew up with 3 siblings–3 of us were straight A students with minimal effort and kid 4, the oldest, struggled. My parents gave us $10 each at the end of the grading period for straight A’s. Maybe they initially started it to motivate kid 4? I think it had zero effect on any of us, in terms of motivation. However, we were quite poor, there was no allowance and almost never a meal at a restaurant. So that $10 was like Christmas. It made report card day extra special! Looking back, I have no idea what kid 4 would say now, as a grown up about it…because they never got the money.

    My own child has a very privileged life and is motivated to do his best because that’s the right thing to do. But he’s only a 2nd grader so that may change with time. We celebrate with letting him choose a restaurant for dinner or something, rather than reward with money or a toy.

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie April 16, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    Angela Duckworth would say no, don’t pay for grades because the psychology literature says that doing so takes things that were internally (“intrinsically”) motivated and turns them into externally (“extrinsically”) motivated, which means they stop being motivated once the external motivation is taken away.

    There is an exception– when the extrinsic motivation can get someone over a hump it can create intrinsic motivation. So although there are lots of studies showing that if you pay kids to read, they stop liking reading as much and read less once you stop paying them (compared to a control that wasn’t paid), there’s also studies showing that if you pay struggling readers to read until their fluency gets better, they will read more than the control group that wasn’t paid because they’re better at it. So it isn’t completely black and white.

    I think this info may be in Grit, but I’m not 100% sure that it is. It’s been a long time since I read it. IIRC the book was pretty repetitive, like many of these academic books that get turned into mainstream publications.

    Now, in practice, I don’t know of any long-term studies– these kinds of motivation studies tend to only measure short-term motivation in kids. And I know plenty of kids who were or weren’t paid for grades and it doesn’t seem to have done any harm, anecdotally, one way or the other. Except in the cases where one kid is paid because they were struggling and the other kid wasn’t paid because they always did well– that tends to cause resentment.

    Anyhow, we don’t pay for grades because they are expected to be high and if they are low we assume that means the kid needs help, not that they have been misbehaving.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns April 16, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    I was never paid for grades. Getting good grades was expected and their definition for ‘good’ varied based on challenges each kid had at school with learning disabilities and such. I also did not get an allowance or get paid for chores. Doing things around the house was just expected of us!

    I do have a coworker who paid his daughter for baskets and rebounds or assists in basketball? She is naturally very good at sports but was kind of unmotivated when playing at times. She then developed an amazing ability to tally what he owed her so he saw it as a way to develop math skills. Zero chance I would do this for my kid but I enjoyed hearing about his daughter adding up the different rewards for points and whatever else she was compensated for!!

    I need to read the links in item 1!

  • Reply Coco April 16, 2021 at 11:32 pm

    I won’t judge any one who does it, everyone has different values and struggles. I personally wouldn’t do it because I consider part of their responsibilities to do well in school. I’m true believer to cultivate agency since small but well everyone just do the best we can in each case.

  • Reply Jennifer April 16, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    This is so interesting to me. My 7 year old daughter is bright but turning in sloppy work (considering the possibility of her being bored with the work content/just not caring and various other possibilities). We kept trying to encourage her to try her best, turn in her best work, take her time etc but she…just wasn’t. I told her if she tried her hardest and we got back work that was done well she could pick a toy. That week she did her best work all year. And now she seems so much more enthusiastic when she knows she gets a small prize at the end of the week. Are we ruining her intrinsic motivation? Do I need to rethink this strategy?

  • Reply Natasha April 17, 2021 at 12:09 am

    Paying for grades- yes for my son who is only externally motivated and no for my daughters who are definitely intrinsically motivated. My daughter was valedictorian of her high school class and received a full scholarship with stipend for college. I never paid her for any grades or provided any treats as rewards.
    My son in high school basically wants to know the minimum GPA required to earn privileges. My youngest daughter who is 10 is more similar to my other daughter as far as grade motivation. We take it on a case by case basis here. It is interesting to me that they are all motivated so differently.

    • Reply Grateful Kae April 17, 2021 at 8:21 am

      Interesting. I was personally very self motivated as a child and always went above and beyond, studied hard, etc. Got excellent grades all through and was never paid- it was just expected. Well, we now have two boys and we also “expect” good grades… but at least one of my boys just doesn’t put forth the level of effort that we would expect. He does well, but never really seems to care to do his “best”. He also seems to want to know what is the minimum he can do and still get by with a good enough grade. He is very bright and we always have the feeling he isn’t really meeting his potential. With him it seems like he just doesn’t really enjoy studying/school work too much and wants to do whatever is quickest and easiest to just get it over with. He is interested in things-he loved to read and he reads a lot of nonfiction/history just for fun- but he doesn’t want to be bothered with studying, taking notes, etc. HATES anything that involves writing by hand. Just is all about free time, fun time and ideally as much video games as he can get his hands on. Eye roll. (He is 12). I find it infuriating because I just cannot even relate at all to that- I was the opposite!!! Carefully took notes in my assignment notebook and stayed up late studying for the test, etc. I wonder if this issue is more common in boys? I’m sure it’s a mix but I found your comment interesting since you had both son and daughters. We certainly have set high standards and have made that clear, so I don’t think it’s lack of expectations or effort on our part. Of important note though, he does have adhd and takes medication, so while he focuses well on his meds, the doctors have said this lack of effort thing/wanting to rush on to something more fun tends to be par for the course for many kids with adhd. 🙁 He just seems to lack motivation in general, unfortunately.

  • Reply omdg April 17, 2021 at 11:03 am

    My parents told me that if I got all As at the end of 8th grade they would pay me $100. I used the money to buy a bike which I had for the next 6 years until a car hit me and totaled the bike. Never needed to be paid to get good grades again. I think… in 8th grade school was REALLY easy, and it was so tempting to do no work at all because I didn’t have to in order to get good-enough grades. Parents knew if I did just a little, I’d get all As, so they provided an incentive. My grades did fall when I went to a more challenging school the next year, but eventually I realized on my own that if I paid attention and did my homework I could get As there too. It was sure nice to have a bike though! Clearly the payment did not diminish my intrinsic motivation over the long run, so I don’t really have a strong opinion on the topic. I guess do what you think will work for your kid.

  • Reply anereson April 17, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    This made me laugh at a memory – my parents never paid me for good grades, though I, like Annabelle, often pointed out to them that other kids DID get paid for their A’s. I remember my dad saying, “well, if you want to introduce money into the grade system, you can pay us $5 for every A you don’t get.” That put a stop to it pretty quickly. 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 17, 2021 at 3:32 pm

      hahaha that’s really funny!

  • Reply Elizabeth April 17, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    I have wanted to try simplified for a long time but have been stuck on price + paying for shipping combo so thank you so much for the coupon code! Makes me willing to order now that I can essentially have free shipping. Thank you!!! ☺️

  • Reply Katie April 19, 2021 at 6:42 am

    My parents never paid us for grades! Both of my brothers at one point where on behaviour/homework cards from the school because they were struggling in those areas. If they got all good things on their card for the week they’d get extra pocket money because they’d worked really hard to achieve that. I behaved well in school and did my homework because I liked school, so I had to do extra chores to earn my extra pocket money. I’m 31 years old and I still resent it.

    So I’d say whatever you decide to do, you need to have the same standard for all your kids. if something is hard for one kid and you want to reward them for working at it, that’s great, but make sure you reward your other kids for getting the same outcome even if they didn’t have to work so hard for it. You don’t want to teach the other kid that they have to work harder and achieve more and be better in order to get paid / rewarded cos that’s a crappy thing to have to work through as an adult.

  • Reply Marcia (OrganisingQueen) April 21, 2021 at 6:19 am

    Gosh, what an interesting discussion. I’d like to bring the Four Tendencies into it. I think a lot of your readers might be upholders or questioners (I am an upholder too) so like to follow the rules and get good grades.

    BUT I would dearly love to hear from those other tendencies.

    My DH and I are upholders – lots of intrinsic motivation and we did very well at school.

    Our kids are not, and are more interested in play than homework and studying (one questioner and one rebel) and I admit (rather sheepishly in this forum) that we have set some monetary incentives. We get school reports on Thursday and I don’t think either of them will hit their “goals” (for noting, one has an easier academic life than the other and we have taken this into account) solely because they forgot until it was too late.

    I don’t have any bright ideas; I just think all of this is really hard when your kids are different to you, and different from each other.

    They both did MUCH better at school when they were in “real school” full time (2019). Most of last year was a bomb (5 months of no school) and then they went back 50% of the time as it continues this year too.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.