If your son or daughter has come home with poor grades, it can be disappointing. You want to broach the subject, but you don’t want to make them feel bad about it. Perhaps the opposite has happened, and your son or daughter has come home with great grades, and you want to praise them? However, you don’t want to go too overboard! No matter what applies, grades is a subject you are going to need to discuss with your child at some point, and you need to make sure you go about the conversation in the right manner. With that being said, read on to discover the ten rules you should follow when talking to your children about grades.
Be proactive rather than reactive
Don’t leave it until the last moment to talk to your child about their grades. It is better if you do this before their report cards or exam results come out. After all, you can influence more before the grades are given, rather than once they have been handed out. You should make sure your child fully understands what expectations you have for them going forward, as well as making it clear you are there to provide support and assistance in any manner they need it. It is vital that this communication starts before the report card is in your hands.
Remember, your grades do not define your child
When your child is growing up, it can be very easy to feel like grades are the be all and end all. They are incredibly important, of course, as they set the foundations for the rest of your child’s life. However, it is critical to remember that your child is not his or her grades. Grades only make up a portion of who they are and what they know, as well as what they are capable of becoming. After all, how many times have we heard people say “they don’t teach that in school.” Your child will learn things through life lessons and experiences too, so grades measure only what the school defines as smart. It does not measure other critical characteristics, for example, creativity, sensitivity, fortitude, trustworthiness, integrity, spontaneity, and emotional intelligence.
Communicate positive experiences
This is one of the most important rules of them all. One of the greatest things you can do for your child when it comes to grades is to communicate that you expect success in a positive manner. For example, when they get good grades, act pleased but not surprised. When they get bad grades, you can say you did not expect that.
Be mindful about using rewards to encourage better grades
A lot of parents use rewards as a method to encourage their children to study harder and achieve more. Nevertheless, you do need to be mindful about going down this route. Remember, rewards are only going to produce short-term results. So, if you are looking for a long-term solution, i.e. to develop a love of learning, rewards probably aren’t going to be the best path to go down. After all, it teaches children that studying is a method to get something you want, rather than being something you should do so that you can learn and grow. This is not the sort of message you want to be giving off.
Don’t punish your child for bad grades
Just as you need to be mindful about using rewards, you should avoid punishing your child altogether. Punishments don’t worry, however, natural outcomes and consequences do. For example, if your child gets bad grades, then the natural consequence of this is that they will need to put in more study hours going forward. For example, you may enrol them into extra classes after school until their grades improve again. It is all about explaining to your children that an opportunity equals responsibility. So, when the responsibility drops and your child does not achieve good grades, then the opportunity to choose what they want to do on an afternoon also disappears.
Don’t dive straight in
A lot of parents make the mistake of diving into the conversation with little thought or conversation. You need to move up in consciousness before you can move in with action. Before you say anything in response to the grades your child has received, you should count to ten or take three deep breaths. Practice any sort of breathing technique that will allow you to have clarity and enter the discussion in the right frame of mind. It is usually a good idea to talk to yourself before you talk to your child. Think about the conversation in your mind and run through how it is going to go. Do not only think about what you want to say to your child, but think about how your child is going to receive what you say. It is vital to remember that the whole point of the conversation is so your child can get better grades in the end; it is not simply to make them feel bad about what has happened. For this to be the case, you need to have your emotions and mind under control, and you need to stay on track throughout the conversation. Remember what you went through in your mind and stay focused.
Focus on finding the solution
You are going to achieve nothing by focusing on the past. These grades have already been given and they cannot be changed. You need to channel all of your energy on moving forward and how your child can improve in the future. The only reason you should look on what has passed is to determine where your child went wrong so that you can make the required improvements going forward. Plus, if you focus on the solution, it means you have a positive approach, which will make your child a lot more open to the discussion about their education. Rather than blaming them or focusing on the past, always look to fix the problem.
Talk less, listen more
Most people have a tendency of talking more than they listen in conversations. We can’t help it! However, you will achieve a lot more if you listen to your child, rather than doing all of the talking. You should never simply assume that you know why your child’s grades are low – if they are, of course. You need to ask plenty of questions. This includes the likes of: What goals do you have for next time you do an exam? Are there any disappointments for you with this report card? What are you most proud of? Were these the grades you were expecting or are there any surprises? What do you attribute these grades to? How do you feel about the grades you have received? You get the point; ask questions!
Don’t be evaluative, be descriptive
Evaluative words include the likes of poor, lousy, super, brilliant, and good job. What do these words achieve? They aren’t helpful because they do not give your child any information that can help them to improve. Instead for evaluating, you should describe what you see. For example, you can say, I see that your teacher said you have gone up a grade in English or I notice that you missed an assignment in chemistry. This then opens up the conversation for your child to say what has happened and why.
Separate your child and the grade
When you are disappointed in your child’s grades, it is important to make it clear that it is the grades you are disappointed in, and not your child. Help your child to see that they are not your report card. You should stay away from comments like “I love you so much when you make me happy and proud by bringing home positive grades like this.” Why? Well, that indicates that your pride and your love are determined by the grades your child gets, and so if their grades go down, so will your love and you won’t be as proud.
So, there you have it: the ten rules for communicating with your children about grades. From starting early to being descriptive instead of evaluative, if you follow the tips that have been provided, you can ensure that the conversation with your child goes smoothly and that you get your message across. After all, you don’t get a second chance to get better grades (well, there are re-sits, but you’d rather your child could avoid that path). So, listen more than you talk, focus on the solution, and be positive. This approach will go a long way.