Coast to Coast

Should Parents Reward a Good Report Card (Or Punish a Bad One)?

Image via Adobe Stock

School is almost over! Which means we’ll get to spend more time with our children and go on a summer vacation with them. But before you guys wrap up the school year, you have to see first how well the kids performed in school. And if they did perform well, should you reward a good report card? And if they did poorly, do they deserve some form of punishment?

Reasons Why You Should Reward a Good Report Card

If you reward a good report card, you’re motivating your kids to study well

Almost everyone knows that rewards can motivate any person to study or work harder — and it doesn’t have to be a monetary reward. Sometimes, even a simple compliment, such as telling your kid “Great job!” is enough for them. Or, on some occasions, a simple hug will do!

However, of course, depending on how well they did, it’s still your decision which type of reward they’ll receive. Is it a trip to an amusement park, or will they be getting a new cell phone? It’s up to you and what you promised to give them if they get high grades on their report card — or it can be what they asked for! Regardless, they’ll be happy to know that they have a tangible award or reward that proves how well they did in school.

They’ll learn to manage their finances

If your kid is getting cash as a reward for achieving good grades, they’ll most likely learn the value of money. They’ll also understand how finances work — and what you can do in order to acquire some. Which, in this case, good grades on their report card.

It can boost their confidence as well

If you think about it, children study for 8 hours every day — that’s also the same duration that their parents work! Furthermore, sometimes, they’re also given homework. That’s even more studying for them. Therefore, just like you, kids are also susceptible to burnout.

Children may lose interest in studying if they think they’re doing it just to “punish” themselves. Therefore, if you reward a good report card, you’re essentially telling your child that what they’re doing (studying hard) has worth, value, and rewards.

Potential Disadvantages If You Reward a Good Report Card

Some think it’s a form of bribery

Some think that if you reward a good report card, you’re kind of bribing your children — or that you’re paying the kids for your benefit, as it’s “you” who wants to see results. However, according to most experts, such as Dr. Emily Edlynn, in her article for, it isn’t considered a bribe if the reward comes after the result — as bribing is the opposite of this.

The kids might end up studying harder for the wrong reasons

If the idea of being rewarded for doing something satisfactory is enforced upon the kiddos, they may end up saying yes to opportunities that aren’t morally correct. However, of course, as a parent, it’s still your job to teach them what’s right and what’s wrong. And which opportunities as well as situations are ones that they shouldn’t take or partake in.

Moreover, if children are offered rewards for their hard work, they may end up studying just for the sheer purpose of being rewarded — and not because they go to school to cultivate their knowledge. They may not realize the value of what they’re learning as they only have their eyes on the reward.

Or, they might end up not studying harder than they should

If your kid is rewarded for having a good report card, they may end up not realizing that the reward is a privilege. And as long as they’re rewarded, they may end up not wanting to learn more than the amount of school lessons they should learn.

Even if a kiddo can achieve a higher score on their test or homework, they might end up not trying — if they know that they already achieved the minimum grade they should in order to get the reward.

Should You Punish a Kid For a Bad Report Card?

Every child is different. If you have more than one kid, you may have already noticed that — even siblings have different interests and talents. Therefore, they will excel in different subjects in school. See first which subjects your kid gets good grades on and which ones they don’t do well in. You and your kid can then focus on improving their grades there. You can help them with their homework in the next school year. Or, since it’ll be summer vacation anyway, you can maybe hire a tutor for them.

These days, many are also now more aware of some problems kids face — some have learning disabilities that need to be diagnosed by a professional. In some instances, those with dyslexia, ADHD, or those who are in the autism spectrum need therapy to help them live with their condition and function better in school.

According to Prof. Richard Ryan (a psychologist and professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Education at the University of Rochester) — regarding what should be done if a child doesn’t deliver good grades — “Should we love them less? That will never help them succeed in life, and the evidence shows this has many long-term costs. Success in life is more likely related to feeling a sense of confidence and security that comes from parents who support their child through successes and setbacks.”

“A reward that acknowledges a great effort is more effective than one that is promised upfront for getting an A. Appreciation is always a better motivator than control.” Prof. Ryan added.


Kids do better in school when they’re motivated. And when you reward a good report card, they’ll perform even better as they have tangible proof that their efforts paid off. On the other hand, if your child’s grades aren’t too good, find out first if there’s something bothering them, if they have learning difficulties, or if they could use extra help with learning certain lessons or subjects.

Send to a Friend Print