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HOW TO TALK TO YOUR KID ABOUT GRADES... And put an end to report card anxiety

What happens when your child brings home his/her report card? Is your first concern that the grades are “good”?

And, what exactly, do you consider a good grade? A? B? C? D? And how about your child? Is his worth (i.e. self-esteem) dependent on the letter on that report card?

Does she soar when the report has mostly A’s and deflate with B’s, C’s, D’s, or F’s? In other words, do you, or they, define who they are by a letter on a piece of paper.

I know that every parent wants their child to be smart. Every parent wants their child to do his or her best. And I’m not saying they’re not or you shouldn’t.

But, where’s the balance? How do you let your child know that he is loved, respected, cherished no matter what, while encouraging grades that reflect his ability?

Here are some tips:

Focus on the positive

Very few children want to do poorly in school; bringing home a report card usually produces a lot of anxiety (even when it doesn’t seem like they could give a hoot).

In our quest for what’s best for our children, a lot of parents, focus on what needs to be fixed - pointing out the grades that need improvement - and what we will do to remedy the situation. “What happened in Math? No TV/Video games/ whatever until this grade improves!” Alternately, blame is placed on the teacher. Meetings are scheduled. Notes are written. Accusations are made.

Neither one of these scenarios actually help your child. What to do instead? Point out the positive aspects of your child’s report card. Focusing on the positives takes some of the pressure off.

Let your child’s self-assess

Find out your child’s assessment of the grades. Given the opportunity, when this is discussed calmly and rationally, kids can be insightful. (Corner them and they will be forced to make excuses.) Ask if they’ve done their best. Ask if and where they think the problem is. Try not to blame or shame. Instead, find out where he feels inadequate; then take steps to turn that around.

This Is Not Forever

A report card is based on what happened in the past - feedback for actions that were or were not taken. It’s not a measure of how smart your child; nor is it a measure of good or bad. It is an assessment of how well your child demonstrated they learned a certain set of materials. Speak to the learning that took place: “You really learned all about the Holy Roman Empire.” or “Looks like you struggled with some of the material in Science for this marking period.” Then...

...Come Up With A Plan

With your child, come up with a plan. You can say something like, “What do we need to do so you feel better about this.” or “Let’s put together a plan to help you out.”

Decide what grade might represent their best effort and what needs to be done to achieve it. Do they need to put more effort in? Do they need extra help with something? Maybe it’s just a different explanation. Maybe it’s some homework help. Maybe tutoring. Also, remind your child (and yourself) that everyone excels at some things and struggles with others. Some have to work harder at Math, some at Social Studies. Also, not every grade has to be an A. Even A students make mistakes; even A students struggle. But stress the fact that every grade needs to reflect their best effort.

And remind them they are more than a number on a piece of paper; that their report card doesn’t define them, and that your love is unconditional.

And if you think this is easier said than done or you are someone who is looking for wisdom and support, schedule a call for a SKYROCKET YOUR CHILD'S SUCCESS session today. We'll look at your goals, challenges, and opportunities you might be missing. We'll also uncover hidden problems that may be sabotaging the desired results. You'll leave the session feeling renewed, re-energized, and inspired to get results faster and easier then you thought possible. And you'll have a plan of action to do just that.

"We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today." — Stacia Tauscher

Mary Kerwin is an expert in helping kids to develop the confidence and self-esteem skills that they need to thrive now, and grow into happy, confident, successful adults. She is a wife, mother of 4, teacher, a Certified Holistic Integrative Coach and the

founder of Confident Families and creator of the Encourage Greatness: Parenting with Confidence Program. Her life’s work has been in Education, spending more than 40 years as a classroom teacher. Her mission has always been to foster and develop each child to see their unlimited potential.

(646) 266-4876

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