It’s okay to pay kids for good grades. I just know when to stop

To the editor: To columnist Robin Abcarian, who worries about paying good grades to the niece he’s raising, I say this: You’re a good father! Rewarding a child for “pushing” is a research-backed technique.

The important thing is to remove the reward as soon as the child shows any interest in the learning you are encouraging. It is very likely that as you develop your competence and confidence, you will begin to enjoy mathematics and you can forget about the reward.

Other tips: Keep the “momentum” reward small. Help your child connect math to his own experiences and show his own enthusiasm for the subject.

Rewards are not prohibited, just use them wisely.

Kathy Seal, Santa Monica

The writer is co-author of the book “Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning.”


To the editor: I was a social worker at one of the regional centers in the 1970s. It was at the beginning of the behavior modification era.

One of my favorite stories involves a boy who also had trouble with math-related work, even though his work in other subjects was excellent. Tests had shown that he had the ability, but he was not that interested or motivated to do mathematics.

His parents and I, trying to come up with some way to motivate him to work harder, came up with this: His “reward” for doing his math homework would be to let him read any novel he wanted for an hour.

It worked. Her math grades improved and her love for literature increased: a win-win situation.

John Snyder, Newbury Park

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