When money is used to reward children for activities with inherent value to them, they tend to lose interest for the activity and long-term motivation. Not only that, it can reduce creativity and encourage unethical behavior such as cheating.
However, when a task is repetitive, boring and doesn’t require creativity, such as pulling weeds or vacuuming, then rewards can increase productivity (though paying for chores is another topic.)
Giving a child money for good grades reduces the child’s sense of achievement and ownership. When getting paid for good grades, money becomes the motivation — not learning, meeting the challenges of school, or improving oneself.
In his book “Drive,” Daniel Pink shows that there are three primary elements to motivation in all but the most repetitious monotonous work: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
1. Autonomy: Allowing people maximal autonomy in figuring out how, when and with whom to accomplish their work increases inventiveness and performance.
2. Mastery: Mastery is approached through engagement, effort and practice.
3. Purpose: Inspiration is personally acquired; it can’t be supplied by other people, though it can be diminished. When people find a purpose greater than their own self-interest, their drive intensifies.
When your child gets good grades, the grades themselves are generally useful feedback to evaluate their progress. Much of the purpose of school-work is to teach a child how to plan, analyze, delay gratification, think creatively, and tolerate frustration. It teaches them how to set goals and figure out how to achieve them. These goals are undermined when the purpose becomes to make money.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD