View Full Version : Thinking of creating a reward system for good school habits - ideas?

08-30-15, 02:15 PM
My very clever ADD son is 14 and going into grade 9. Last year he had problems with organizing all the loose papers that came home with him and following through with homework. Midpoint through the year he was allowed to switch into a support class where he could do his homework with supervision.

I noticed that paper organization and follow through were still an issue and it affected his marks.

We had a frank discussion about motivation and he explained that he just is not motivated by long term goals like good grades so he can get into university.
He has also explained that he is motivated by money and that is the only thing that will get him to good grades.

I had a long think about this and want to go a step further (though money for a reward is a huge conflict with me). I think the reward should be for the habits that lead to good grades not for the grades for two reasons: the habits are what is important and will lead to higher self esteem (and hopefully good grades) and because they are immediate and measurable. Grades are only visible mid term and end term.

So - I discussed this with him and he also seemed to think that money wasn't quite right. He suggested a point system where the points would add up to rewards like a new skateboard or a date night out with his girlfriend.

As for the details I think this is how it would work:
- as soon as he returns from school he needs to sort his paperwork into the correct categories and place them in his binder
- he needs to review with me the homework required for the night and give me a time line for when he is going to complete it
- the homework needs to be checked by me

I can see all kinds of headaches in monitoring this for example
- he comes home with friends and wants to head out right away and do it later. Dinner happens, life happens and off to bed with no follow through
- he says "no homework" and goes off to do his own thing (proof?) does he get "points" for this?
- homework isn't up to the standard he's capable of because he just doesn't care - done so points? or no points?

Am I missing something? Can I make this easier? Does anyone have ideas/experience that can help me?

Any advice much appreciated.

He is clever but not motivated and I think good habits will get him a big step closer to doing well, opening opportunities and giving more confidence.


08-31-15, 10:26 PM
I'm conflicted about this kind of plan. I know that rewards are supposed to work. I also know that they're recommended by all kinds of experts. But I found that, for me, reward and punishment feel just about exactly the same.

08-31-15, 11:38 PM
It is tricky with rewards. The way I look at this homework and organization skills is that they are a necessity and his main responsibility in school. So the ultimate responsibility relies on him, not you double checking everything and monitoring every thing he does right or wrong. I think you should have less responsibility in this matter.

Give him clear goals - organize your paperwork as you get it at school, and I'll check your folder first thing when you get home.

I'm thinking if he just crams all the papers in his backpack only to wait until he gets home to organize it, then it will be overwhelming. Even if it's 3 papers. The idea of finding the pages in his backpack, figuring out which folder, than putting them in the folder can seem like a bigger job if he does it all at home when all he wants to do is forget about school for the rest of the day. Also, you won't have to remind him or get on him to do it. It should be done before he walks in the door. Less work for you, all the responsibility is on him. Plus it will be a habit for him to organize as he goes along and not all at once when it's overwhelming. Baby steps.

I would go on, but hopefully you got my point. Leave the responsibility up to him, so you don't have to.

There is so many ways to parent, and we all have ways that work for us that wouldn't work for other kids. We all do the best we can. I know with my daughter, the more I get involved with "helping" her, the more she relies on me to "help" her every step of the way, and it becomes a job for me and me just nagging and nagging and micro-managing.

As far as rewards, Maybe if he gets 4 out of 5 days organzide than he gets to stay up 30 min later on Friday. Something non-monitary but something that will make him thrilled to look forward to. You don't want to go broke when he starts doing awesome. IDK what would be a good reward for him. That's just an example.

When you get this whole parenting thing figure out, give me the cliff-notes. Mine is only 8 years old :p

09-01-15, 03:24 PM
Oh, this sounds so much like my 13 year old. :)
I agree that less is better, but at my house we have yet to establish a really good routine that my son (and I) can stick with consistently.
What we HAVE agreed on is that when he gets home from school he gets 30 minutes to relax and do his own thing. After that he needs to do homework. So far, he's doing pretty well with starting his homework after the 30 minute break, but school has just started, too. After his homework his finished I remind him to stash all his loose papers in their respective folders/notebooks. It'd be great if he'd do this at school, but I just don't see it happening at this point. One thing is for sure, he does not want me rifling through his backpack or reading his agenda. He is viewing this as an invasion and probably it's demeaning as well. I can kind of see his point; he's not in elementary school any more...

I anticipate that soon I will be getting the 'I don't have any homework today' routine. What I am considering doing is setting aside a minimum amount of time after his break that is either devoted to homework or some other academic pursuit, like reading. I think this may help him to 'remember' his homework assignments.

o TX o
09-04-15, 11:45 AM

09-07-15, 10:51 PM
Thanks for your response Phantasm. :)

I wish it were that easy. I think there's a good dose of ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) going on here and he doesn't see the benefit of doing school work (inability to see the long term benefits and inability to organize).

He just doesn't care. Also, me telling him to do something makes him not want to do it. Also, I have no control over his bed time. You can't make someone go to sleep. Hard to understand that when your child is 8 I know. Or even if your child isn't like this. I have two and I can't imagine having this problem with him (or at least not as severe). Different kids. Sigh.

09-07-15, 10:52 PM
TX - yes - that is exactly what he wants. :) Are you saying you've done that and it worked or that it would have worked for you as a kid? All advice welcome.

09-07-15, 10:58 PM
LynneC - sounds like you're almost in the same boat. Though mine needs some reward for following through with a plan like that and the idea of dropping everything when he comes home to remind and coax him into doing what he needs to do seems impossible. I don't think I could follow through with that every day. I don't want to hand hold him through every step or invade his privacy etc. but don't know the solution - especially one that motivates compliance.

It has to be motivating and easy to monitor and short term - do it, get reward. You also raised a good point - how do I know it's true if he says he has no homework or he did it in class? Also, so he has done his homework and he has done a poor job? He'll argue that it's done and who cares? Argh.

09-07-15, 11:00 PM
If you do go with rewards, how you give them is almost more important than what they are. Kids with ADHD do not start out with the the capability for delayed gratification, and unfortunately in general they don't really ever learn it - at least not coming anywhere close to the standard you would hope for or expect.

All rewards for a child with ADHD need to be given literally within seconds of finishing whatever is needed to earn them. (And I mean the word "literally" in the real, old-fashioned way, not with its irritating new meaning.)

Working toward getting a weekend treat when Friday comes is as attractive to an ADHD child as if you were made to work toward a weekend treat that you'll get when you're 78.

09-07-15, 11:02 PM
Just one more thing to add...have been getting nothing but negative from him lately, when he bothers to open his mouth, so my responses might sound more defeated than usual.

09-07-15, 11:03 PM
dvdnvwls - thanks for your response.

I completely get that. You're so right. Just how to do it consistently and what to give? Have you solved a similar problem? Is your child a teen or older?

09-07-15, 11:04 PM
dvdnvwls - thanks for your response.

I completely get that. You're so right. Just how to do it consistently and what to give? Have you solved a similar problem? Is your child a teen or older?

I don't have any children, I've just been one for a long long time. :)

09-08-15, 12:26 AM
Tillamook7 - The only other thing that comes to mind is to let him face the consequences of his actions.

Coming from a "hover mother" :p I am learning that I have to let go and let hmy daughter make her own mistakes in order for her to understand there are consequences. It's tough as a parent to see our kiddos make mistakes, especially if it means the consequences can be long lasting ( failing grades means making up classes again, or not graduating on time).

I'm thinking back to when I was in High school and had nobody who even cared to look at my report card. I did horrible in school, and it wasn't until I learned that if I didn't bring my grades up in X classes, I wouldn't be able to graduate. I HATED school with the passion, and not graduating wasn't an option, so I had to get my $hit together to make it happen. It was a horrifying thought to have to stay in school any longer than I had to. :faint:

I know everyone is different, and one may care, and one may not care about consequences, but what I am learning right now with my own child is that sometimes good old fashion consequences for your actions makes more difference to a child than getting a reward for doing something they should be doing anyway.

09-09-15, 10:40 AM
Phantasm - thanks for your response. That is good advice. I did that last year actually (well, a little bit of nagging) in the areas of school, sleep and food. He is taking a really long time to figure out the consequences of going to sleep really late (2 to 3pm), eating poorly and not keeping on top of homework. I'm afraid that if I play no role in helping him that he won't realize how far under he is until it's too late - ie grade 12 barely passing and few options.

There has to be a balance of "you're a big person now so you need to take care of that" and well, he can't so he needs some help. He sees that he needs help. He has told me what would help him. I just don't know how to implement it so it will work.