Mom Confession: I Bribe My Kid to Get Good Grades

homeworkTo bribe or not to bribe kids to do well in school -- that's the question. Actually, it's not a question in my house, because it's just what we do, but it's definitely the subject of plenty of debate among parents and experts.

Over at Today Moms, educational psychologist Michele Borba says research proves bribing doesn't work in the long term. "It has short-term gain, but long-term pain," she says. Great.


She says that children who learn to motivate themselves do the best.

It will backfire on the love of the subject, the internal motivation and creativity. That love of learning goes out, and instead what the child loves is cash and not the subject of the learning.

In theory, I get this, but when there are grades at stake, and there is no love being shown for the subjects at hand, I think getting results is most important. In an ideal world, my son would love to learn for learning's sake, and I truly thought he would. He was an early reader, fascinated by everything, and like a sponge when he was young. And then he wasn't. Now he wants to play with his friends, go outside, do anything but sit there and study after he's been at school all day doing the same.

Homework is the biggest parenting battle I've faced since potty training. He procrastinates, whines, sits on his head, and complains -- anything but sitting down to do his homework. I get sick of nagging and dread every afternoon ... or did.

Then we put up a star chart. He gets a star for each day he sits down and does his work without complaint (huffs and eye rolls are included). After 30 stars, he gets a reward. Guess how many homework battles we've had since putting up that chart? ZERO. So while it may not be the perfect way to get him to love learning, at least he's learning. At this point in the game, that's good enough for me, and I hope that love comes back at some point.

Borba's alternative to bribes is praise. And that's great, but you have to get to a point where there's actually something to praise. Sometimes that takes a bribe.

Do you bribe your children to do well in school?


Image via Casey Fleser/Flickr

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