How can I incentivize my teen to get good grades?
Real Mom Problem
“How do you motivate your kids to get good grades? My son is 15 years old and has no motivation and just doesn't care.”
- 1. Remind your teens of the life that could await them after high school, if they get good enough grades to achieve it
- 2. Praise them for doing a good job and trying their best
- 3. Let them know you care about their future
- 4. Instill the value of hard work
Real Mom Solutions
Read how these moms encourage their kids to get good grades.
Talk About Lifetime Goals
In addition to checking grades and outstanding assignments at least weekly, and removing privileges if your child is not working up to snuff, I would also show him what life costs and what various jobs pay, and what GPA is needed to get entry into the professional schools leading to those jobs. Nothing is quite as motivating as knowing the specifics, such as a 3.6 or so in college will get you into pharmacy school, and at the age of 24 you'll be a Doctor of Pharmacy making $110K per year, which allows you a life that could include a new car, a condo, and a European vacation. Get very specific with him. A McDonald's job earns you $17K, which allows a life that includes only the following bare-bones things, which each cost $X, Y, and Z. And don't allow him to be under any illusions that you are funding his life after age 18 unless he's in school and passing his courses.
Have lots of specific conversations with him about college life, which schools he might want to attend, go online with him and show him, or take him for a walk around a couple of local campuses. He needs to get some specific dreams in his head about what is right around the corner in his life. Once he gets excited about where he wants to head, I think he'll be motivated. He may still need some assistance to be self-disciplined (i.e., privileges removal on occasion) but he'll know why he wants to turn in his work. He'll have money and lifestyle plans based on specifics you've shown him.
I told my daughter "If you don't get your grades up there would be no learner's permit, no license, no job, no Internet, no friends, no nothing until you turn 18 and move into your own place. Oh wait, you won't ever be able to move into your own place because you won't have any money saved up for it because there won't be a license for you to have a car in order to get back and forth to work to be able to save up any paychecks to be able to move out and have a life of your own! I guess you'll be stuck living under my roof with all my rules FOREVER!" That was the last argument we had about it.
By the next quarter she had Cs and Bs. Now she's not trying just to "get out of the house," she has realized (with the help of teachers and the counselor) that she wasn't going ANYWHERE in life without finishing high school with decent grades. Now she wants to be a pediatric nurse and is trying her hardest to graduate with academic honors. Getting through that first super-thick layer of teenage know-it-all that surrounds their brain is difficult, but it's doable. Just don't give up. Keep talking to your teen about the future. It'll sink through that first layer soon.
Set Expectations Instead of Bribing
I teach my kids that if you're going to do something, do it right, and to the best of your ability. I don't look at college and/or a "good" job as the only thing to motivate an education. I just prefer my kids to want to strive for the best, regardless of a specific end result. I also don't feel money is the best motivator for everything, even your work. I think that just results in greediness.
Our son has always gotten good grades. It is expected of him. He has chores, he does not get allowance. We buy him what he needs and wants because he is a good kid overall. Same will go for our daughter when she is old enough. I believe in teaching good habits and being involved. To me, I think it works better than bribery.
In my house, it was/is expected that my child got good grades. We accomplished that by making sure our daughter was doing her work and turning in projects on time. As an athlete, she couldn't compete in sports if she had bad grades, nor would we have let her go out for a sport if her grades were low. Now that she's in college, she is excelling on her own, all without us forking over cash for what was expected of her. And we never had to pull her from any sport or activity due to grades.
I don't pay my child for getting good grades. Do you get paid for being a good mom? Do you get paid for raising your kids? No, because that is what is expected of you and getting good grades is what I expect of my daughter. Now, I am more inclined to let her have something special, but I won't pay her. I believe if we set low expectations for our children they will never live up to their full potential.
Some Moms Punish for Lousy Grades
My son gets grounded, and things get taken away. Spending a week at home grounded usually gets him motivated! His biggest problem is turning in homework, but he's doing well now. You have to stick to your guns, and make him do it.
We give "get out of chores free" cards for good grades. 2 night's worth for an A, 1 for a B. Cs don't get anything, good or bad. Ds and Fs get extra chores AND grounding.
If mine came home with an F, they would do nothing, go nowhere and have ALL the chores till the grades came up! I have motivated them with money. In Kindergarten through 5th grade, if they got all As, they got $20; 1 B, it drops to $10; 1 C, they got nothing. In Middle School for all As, they got $50; 1 B, $25; 1 C = NOTHING. In High School if they get all As, they get $100; 1 B, $25; 1 C, NOTHING. I do not waiver from this rule, either. My oldest is a junior and 17. He brought home his first D this year and had curfew at 8:30 even on weekends until the grade was up. By Friday I had a note from the teacher saying his grade was a C!
If he keeps a B average, we will let him use a car and pay for his insurance. If he does not keep Bs, he will not. His grades went from Ds to Bs really quick when he got that we meant it. He had to start getting good grades at 15 because that will be the report card that goes to the insurance for the "good student" discount.
The other thing is that cell phone privileges get locked down if grades are not good. On Verizon we can limit who the kids are allowed to call or text. Bad grades mean only family in the phone, no friends.
My 14-year-old daughter is what I call a minimalist. She does the bare minimum to get by. I expect more As than Bs, and nothing less than a B minus. She is capable of this. If I see a cumulative C, I rock her world. I shut off her phone to everyone but family and emergency contacts. I lock down the iPad. I change her Facebook password. I ground her. She is cut off. I do the same for a D or F on a test until it is re-taken and the score is above a C.