For Parents

Should Kids Get Paid For Good Grades?

We discuss the pros and cons of paying your kids for good grades, and acceptable incentives to give for achieving good grades in school.


One of the biggest decisions for parents with school-aged kids is how to reward good grades. Is money involved, or should you keep it out of the picture? 

Believe it or not, money can undermine your child’s inner drive and take away from your kid’s commitment to do their best in school. If your goal is to raise a self-motivated child, we suggest keeping money and grades in separate buckets. Here, we’ll share the pros and cons of paying for good grades, as well as some unique alternatives to help you make the best decision for your family.

What Motivates Your Kids?

Before we go through the positives and negatives of paying kids for grades, we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of motivation. Because we believe that with a little psychology, you can encourage your child to focus on school. 

Experts agree that everyone is motivated by different things and in different ways. That’s why it’s important to understand these two schools of thought, according to the American Psychological Association Dictionary of Psychology:

  • Extrinsic Motivation is the incentive that comes from external praise or rewards. This could be a sales bonus for every new client you land at work or a gift card when your child has perfect attendance at school.
  • Intrinsic Motivation is the type of drive that comes from within. That is, internally, without the dangling of a proverbial carrot. These are based on a foundation of personal values and will make any achievement or project more meaningful.

Parents dream of a situation where their child is always making the right choices at school, always acting from some unwavering, internal force. But it’s tough out there! Kids are pulled in a million different directions. From global pandemics to dangers at school, and their own family environment, there are a lot of things on the minds of kids. 

These days, finding that motivation (and staying motivated) is even tough for some adults. Like adults, each child is different. While one kid might need little to no intervention from parents, others definitely need a more hands-on approach. That’s why it’s best to weigh the options and look for the most efficient way to help your child develop their inner drive. This will put them in the driver’s seat and boost their confidence when it comes to school and grades.

Pros Of Paying Your Kids For Good Grades

Money is a huge motivator for some kids. Being able to receive a financial reward for getting good grades might even help drive the point home that a job well done equals a potential financial windfall, especially for younger kids who don’t have the ability to get a part-time job yet.

When using money as a motivator, a clear and laid-out reward plan is the way to go. The important thing is to make sure the child and parents are 100% clear on the expectations here.

For example:
What’s the specific reward per grade?
A+ = $15.00
B+ = $10.00
C+ = $5.00

How many times will this reward be paid out?
Progress Report time?
End of each Semester?

When coming up with the reward rates for each good grade, be sure to keep any commitment you make with your child. Only commit to an amount you can easily afford and, when budgeting for this type of reward, assume they’ll get straight As. Of course, they might not. But it’s best to make sure you have the means to pay up, just in case!

Paying kids for good grades can help them make the connection that maintaining good grades might lead them to the biggest pot of gold there is in their education: a college scholarship. Some merit-based scholarships could be life-changing, and they would keep your kids from having to take on any predatory school loans.

Cons Of Paying Your Kids For Good Grades

If you pay your kids for good grades, it’s easy for them to develop a sense of entitlement. You may find yourself in a situation where your kids request payment for other “good deeds,” like doing their homework or chores.

Problems also arise when kids flaunt their earnings at school. This can make other children feel inferior for having parents who don’t choose to or can’t pay.

Let’s not forget that paying kids for good grades is a form of bribery, no matter how you slice it. It will affect their decision-making process in the future and could make them expect money for small achievements.

Another possible negative effect of paying kids for good grades is that it doesn’t set the right attitude for learning and schoolwork. Instead of developing a knowledge-seeking outlook, kids will wonder what is in it for them every time an assignment comes along.

Encouraging kids is great, but there are alternatives to hard cash. 

Acceptable Incentives and Rewards For Good Grades

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of rewarding your child with money, there are many amazing options that allow you to still celebrate and shine the spotlight on your little scholar, without breaking out the dollar bills.

  • Sleepover – Host a Sleepover with their closest friends. Pizza, ice cream, and all!
  • Movie Night – Turn the family living room into a movie theater and watch your child’s favorite flick, with snacks of their choosing
  • Bake – Whip up your child’s favorite cake and use the frosting to make a huge “A+” or whatever grade they’re most proud of
  • Celebratory Dinner – Take them to dinner at their favorite restaurant or cook them their favorite meal right at home
  • Verbal Praise – Some kids really value praise from their parents, especially if you do it in front of grandparents, neighbors, or other adults they care about
  • Picture – Take a picture of them with their report card and frame it
  • Extra Time – Reward them with extra time for the activities they love most. You can extend their bedtime, let them use their iPad for an extra 15 minutes, or get more time in the bathtub

Additional Resources

Want to dive deeper into the subject of grades, money, and rewards? Here are some great reads that can help guide your decision. Check out one of the books from our full list of allowance books for parents for more great reads!

If you want to learn more about what really motivates your child, check out Money for Good Grades and Other Myths About Motivating Kids. It’s filled with strategies for both, parents and teachers, so you can work with your child’s school to get the results you’re looking for.

Jumpstart Learning in Your Kids: An Easy Guide to Building Your Child’s Independence and Success in School (Conscious Parenting for Successful Kids) provides strategies on how to help your children with problem-solving, difficult tasks, establishing a routine, and schedule for success.

To set up your child for a more free-thinking and independent outlook, check out The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives. It offers useful tools that your child will be able to apply in many aspects of their future, beyond just grades.

If you’re looking for an easy way to track your kid’s grades and progress, whether you decide to pay them for those grades or not, check out this editable-pdf download, Printable Grade Tracker | Report Card | Student Grade Tracker Printable | Academic Course Results Tracker.

Making The Right Choice For Your Family

Your family is unique and every single student has a different situation at home, but thriving in school is always an important goal for kids and a priority for parents.

This is why non-money-related rewards are the best approach to motivate your children. In the end, this will help them feel valued by their proud parents and will help them develop lifelong skills to set them up for future success.

Related Reading For You and Your Kids

About the Author

Lucia Caldera

Lucia Caldera is a writer who specializes in personal finance. Her goal is to create approachable content that sparks financial wellness and unlocks personal growth. Lucia's work reflects her passion for financial education as the key to reducing the wealth gap for future generations.

Last updated on: July 8, 2024