When kids are young, the whole reward-and-treat conundrum can be difficult for parents. Many parents don’t like giving out rewards for good behavior because it’s simply an expectation.

It’s kind of like paying for chores. Paying for jobs “above and beyond” the normal workload may be one thing, but there are responsibilities in being a member of a family. Parents don’t expect payment for putting food on the table or folding laundry — it’s just part of the role.

But plenty of families use reward charts for potty training and stickers on preschool papers. Perhaps parents are unwittingly conditioning their children from a young age to expect rewards as moms and dads draw their own line in the sand as to how much is too much.

And then there’s the precedent financial reward sets. Children may simply decide that, in the future, it’s what they should expect for any accomplishment.

The recent Time Magazine article, Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well In School? looks at the question of payout for students. Roland Fryer, a Harvard economist who has published previous research on financial incentives, performed an experiment in a number of classrooms. He used over six million dollars of private money to pay students for various behaviors and skills: increasing academics, obeying school rules, and improving test scores.

Interestingly, children who had the biggest problems with behavior showed the greatest improvement.

Young people need to learn the value of work — though one could argue that in this experiment, they did. But is dolling out cash for a high letter grade the way to go?

There are a couple of good things that could come out of it:

1. For a student lacking motivation or who needs to see the value in their own persistence, earning a good grade for money lets that child know she can do it, and lets the child know that the parent knows she can do it.

2. Perhaps after a season (or a semester’s worth) of such payment, a student can see the “fruits” of their labor, therefore seeing how persistence pays off.

However, payment is only going to work if a child is capable of doing something like getting a good grade or raising a test score. For those who aren’t, attempts to bribe will be futile and result in frustration. If a parent if going to embark on the cash-for-grades experiment, they should do so with wisdom.

And though money can be a great motivator for all of us — children and adults alike — there is concern for the long-term effect on some of the students. What difference will it make for these young people when they’re not so young? Will they always be expecting an extrinsic reward for an intrinsic value?

Edward Deci, a social sciences professor at the University of Rochester, doesn’t believe that tangible rewards will work in the long term for the students. After reviewing nearly 130 studies, he came to the conclusion that an extrinsic reward (like money) is a deterrent to the responsibility people have for “motivating or regulating themselves.”

Liz Pulliam Weston is the author of several financial books and the personal finance columnist for MSN’s Money website. In her article about paying for good grades, she points out the “slippery slope” that comes with deciding to offer financial rewards for academic performance:

“If cash becomes your child's primary reason to achieve, you may well lose your leverage when she's old enough to earn her own, Bodnar said. Either that, or you may find yourself constantly upping the ante to keep your child's interest.”

A slippery slope, indeed.

Where do you stand on this issue? Has bribery worked for your children?