A couple of days ago, my sister mentioned that her 7-year old son who is somewhat of a young Einstein didn’t do as well as he normally would in his exams. Donning my big aunty coach hat, I said “Ibk I hear you didn’t do as well as expected. How does that make you feel? He paused for a brief second, looked at me and said “grateful! I’m grateful I didn’t fail. My mummy says I should always be grateful”. Definitely not the answer I was expecting but you know what – he is right. Even in disappointing circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for.
I know the competition is real and we want our children to always come out tops whether it’s in academics, sports or other extracurricular activities. The reality of life, however, is that we are bound to encounter disappointments at some time. It could be an expected A* that ended up being an A or a B that turned out being an F.
Here are a few tips to help in turning those lemons into lemonades – not so much for us, but for our children.
- Realistically manage your expectations – This is more of a preventive tip. While it’s very important to stretch our children to be the best they can be, we must be realistic about our children’s capabilities and stretch them gradually. It’s not very realistic to expect a child who has been a C or D student become an A* student overnight.
- Keep calm – Okay, the results are out and it’s not what you or the child expected and you know he/she is capable of doing much better – avoid overreacting or being overly dramatic. Shouting, spewing out negative words or shaming your child is unlikely to result in better grades but it very likely would result in a dent in the child’s self-esteem.
- Stick with the issue – the grades. I like the way Thomas Haller & Chick Moorman put it “Remember, your children are not their grades. Grades are only a partial reflection of who and what they really are, know, and are capable of becoming. Grades measure only what your child’s particular school defines as smart. That narrow definition of intelligence does not measure emotional intelligence, spontaneity, integrity, trustworthiness, fortitude, sensitivity, creativity and a host of other important characteristics.” So let your child know that while you aren’t happy about the grade, it doesn’t change the love you have for him or her.
- Chat with your child to find out what may be responsible for the grades. Identifying potential causes is a first step to finding solutions. There’s a natural tendency to think that the not-so-good grades are a result of over playfulness or excessive screen time and that’s probably right a lot of the times but there could be some other less obvious reasons such as anxiety, fear, fatigue, lack of comprehension, domestic issues, depression or bullying.
I heard the story of a child who wasn’t doing so well in class. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the child who sat towards the back of the class had problems with her eyesight and couldn’t really see what the teachers wrote on the board. Unfortunately, the teachers and parents thought the child was just making excuses. Thankfully one day someone listened to her complaints, she was moved to a seat towards the front of the class and the positive change in her performance was almost unbelievable.
- Talk with your child’s teacher. They may be able to provide further insights into what could be going on and what can be done.
- Do not shy away from seeking professional help should you suspect that there might be more going on with your child. Timely interventions could prove very valuable.
- Work out an improvement plan with your child. This plan should include setting realistic goals (their goals – not yours…stick to guiding not dictating) and developing effective time management skills. Where necessary and feasible, it may be necessary to arrange for extra lessons where necessary and feasible.
Remain Positive – Acknowledge the effort your child puts in towards improvement and continue to encourage him/her. Let your child know that setbacks are only temporary. Teach them how to learn from their mistakes, pick themselves up and get back on track.
On a final note, remember that there are a number of people who didn’t achieve super grades but turned out to be great world influencers e.g. Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, Henry Ford, Bill Gates… Don’t define your child by their grades.