Should kids be punished for bad grades?

April 30th, 2012

© What's Happening!!

As Featured in the April 27, 2012 Ask Daft Daddy column in the Orange County Register :

Well my son turns 8 months old this week, and I can’t believe how fast time flies. It seems like only yesterday he was pooping and throwing up on me. Oh wait a minute – that was yesterday.

He now has two new teeth that are so far apart from each other, when he smiles he looks like a combination of a jack-o-lantern and Leon Spinks. If he still looks this way come October he’s going to be spending a lot of time on our front porch.

As a new parent, you can’t help but think how much your child has to learn over his or her lifetime. I mean I’m 42 years old and I still haven’t answered a Final Jeopardy question correctly. And not only that, even though I have an MFA, Jeff Foxworthy continues to show me week after week that I’m not smarter than a fifth grader.

So how am I going to make sure wee Mac doesn’t spend so many years in school that his nickname isn’t Rerun? Do I reward him for good grades and punish him for bad ones? Which brings me to our Daft Daddy question of the week:

Dear Daft Daddy: We have two boys in grade school, and one does much better than the other. We typically give our children money when they bring home good grades. The problem is we are only rewarding one of our children, while the other continues to struggle. I was hoping money would motivate him, but obviously it’s not. Should we punish him for bad grades?

- Leanne from Sunset Beach

Dear Leanne: I grew up in a household with very strict parents. When they told me to make my bed they gave me a hammer and nails. They didn’t mess around. They took the same approach when it came to grades – having success with some of my siblings and not much on the others. As it turns out, unlike every Daughtry song, each of my brothers and sisters are not the same – much like your two boys. If you are going to give an incentive for good grades, you should also reward effort and improvement as well as the result. By doing so you may just discover you now have two children who are succeeding. Below are a few Daft Daddy tips for improving your kids’ grades in school:

Set a specific quiet time for homework or general reading. Like during television commercials.

The best learning is hands-on. Show how school work skills are needed and used in day-to-day life. Don’t take them to the DMV to prove this point.

Make sure your home is a place where it is easy for your child to learn. Keep books, magazines, catalogs and writing materials at easy reach. On second thought, you better hide some of those magazines.

Your child must learn to face the music for poor or incomplete work. Much like you do at work.

For a child to feel good about learning, he must first feel good about himself. Encourage your child by praising him when he gets an answer right. You can do this by telling him it was a lucky guess.


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