The Straits’ Sunday Times (Singapore): Richard Ryan comments on “Should You Reward Your Child for A Grades?”April 1, 2012 by Shannon

April 1st 2012.

Good Grade on TestSay you are a parent trying to get your son to aim for all A*s in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). To get him to work hard, you promise him a reward – a trip to Disneyland or the sleek, new iPad, $150 for every A*.

Sounds like a sure-win strategy, and you know others who have used it to good effect. What child can resist the promise of a big reward?

And all you want is for him to ace the PSLE and make it to a top secondary school, because he will then sail through the rest of his school days and be set for life.

Hold on just a minute, says motivational psychology expert Richard Ryan from Rochester University, New York.

That is definitely the wrong tactic if you want your child to fly solo and take responsibility for his own learning.

‘If a parent were to say, ‘I will give you this if you achieve all As’, the child is likely to do it for that reward,’ he says. ‘It also means that subsequently, he will think, well, the only reason to learn is to get the reward. If I am not getting the reward that I want, I am not interested in learning.’

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By Sandra Davie