We all want our children to succeed in life. But in order to achieve our ends, we sometimes promise them everything.

What about parents who ” buy ” their son or daughter with gifts or financial compensation? We want to push them to try harder, to outdo each other.  Is this a good way to motivate them, to promote their success?

Author and financial columnist for the New York Times, Ron Lieber, provides an update on financial education and Parenting Research.

Of course, there are different types of exchanges. Many parents give pocket money to their offspring to do more than just tidy up their rooms and make their beds. Emptying and filling the dishwasher, taking out the garbage cans, cutting the grass are remunerated tasksin many families. This is not the kind of compensation we are talking about here.

Rewarding Good Grades

In high school, my parents gave me money when I had grades over 80% and a little more for results over 90%. My brother, who worked a little harder at school than I did, never made that much money. It bothered me.

First, arguments against remuneration as a source of motivation:

  • As an adult, children may want to buy friends or exchange money for love.
  • Buying one’s child is a way of modeling one’s behavior on that of a materialistic society.
  • Research shows that someone who is paid to do an interesting activity, such as a puzzle, will be less likely to do it again once they have some time off. Thus, we all aspire to be autonomous and competent. By rewarding success, we neutralize our sense of control. These effects would be even more pronounced in children.
  • When the reward depends solely on the performance of the child, the greater the adult pressure, the less motivated the child is likely to feel. In such a situation, the child will protest and increase the reward is not likely to give the expected result.

The arguments for :

  • Some researchers argue that there is a risk of being in more control (not less) if there is a reward involved. This is especially true when it comes to doing something right. According to this theory, the A’s are encouraged in the newsletter, but no participation trophy is given.…

What about compromises?

  • Can we offer money only when the task is really difficult or bothers our child a lot? Those who are in the no camp answer: “you will not always be behind your children to encourage them by offering them a bribe every time whenever a difficulty arises. What will happen if you have always motivated them by paying them and the Rewards cease from one day to the next? »
  • We must break this link between motivation and reward. We need to make our kids understand that we’re not just learning to get A’s and make their parents proud. We need to look beyond this gratification. We’re at school to build up knowledge that will serve us for the rest of our lives. This process is ongoing.


The answer may not be as clear-cut as these researchers claim. It’s all about dosage, I think. If financial compensation is the only source used to motivate your children, it can actually be problematic.

Let us ask ourselves about our own childhood and the results obtained. For my part, it seemed pretty clear to me that I would not pay for my children’s good academic results.


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