It is not uncommon to hear a parent reprimanding his child for scoring 96 marks in Mathematics when they could have scored 100. It’s a situation that generations of students find all too familiar. After a Primary five pupil fell to his death in October last year, the issue of exam obsession that some parents have – causing undue stress on their young children – has come under fierce debate. Have you put thought into how much pressure you put on your kids to do well academically? Here are some tips to cope if your child is not performing well.
It is not the As or Bs, but the expression on parents’ faces when they read their report cards matters most to children, say experts. Children just want to see their parents happy for who they are and seek their approval.
Overreacting can affect your child’s self-esteem. Yelling and screaming will never help, and will only create a reluctance for your kid to talk to you about anything in future. Don’t take your child’s failure personally. It is not about you, it’s about them. If you feel like you cannot remain calm, walk away until you cool down. Remember to let your child know that even though you do not approve of the grade, you still love him or her very much. You want to foster a positive environment in which your child feels comfortable asking you for help – nobody will ask for help from an irritable parent.
Do not compare
Think of how you would feel if your child compares you with the parents of his friends who are maybe smarter, richer, or have better houses and jobs? It won’t feel good. Likewise for children. It makes them feel worthless and unwanted.
Your child wants to hear that you believe he can do well in exam, and only you can encourage him. Take an interest in his interests and together explore new career options for him. Give him your support in whatever career route he chooses as long as he approaches with passion and determination.
Have reasonable expectations
It is important to set reasonable goals according to what your child can achieve. Not every child is going to have perfect scores or turn out to be doctors and lawyers. Every child is unique and has different aptitudes. The key is knowing the difference between your child failing because of not trying, versus failing because they excel in other areas.
Let your child rest
Yes, there is such a thing as studying too much. Studying for too long does not increase the amount of material remembered and can have the opposite effect. Ensure your child is well rested before an exam and eats a good breakfast. It will allow the brain to work at its best capacity. Help your child to develop good study habits while still maintaining a balance. Each day, your child should have enough rest on top of study sessions, and have the chance to play and spend time with the family. This balance is indeed a lifelong skill.
Offer help, not punishment
Grounding a child by not letting him participate in school sports or other extra-curricular activities doesn’t convey the right message. Cutting out this balance in life and will just push your child to be a recluse. Find ways that will help your child feel successful instead of penalised.
If punishment is what they get, your child might get more fearful of sharing their academic achievements with you. Let your child know that they can count on you for help so that they will continue to feel motivated to work harder after every exam.
Help your child learn their strengths and weaknesses
No two people learn the same way, and your child’s teacher may be using a method that works for most students but not for him. Sometimes, another approach or a differently-angled explanation is all it takes for understanding.
Help your child determine which areas they have difficulty in, and adjust study time to focus on them. Teach children not only to do their homework but to develop responsibility, foresight, and dedication. These skills are just as essential for learning and can dramatically aid in their overall achievement.