This is that time of the year when mid-term grades get announced. Education or academic performance has been known to be a great source of angst between kids & parents. In a report published by the American Psychological Association, Stress in America - Are Teens Adopting Adults' Stress Habits , "teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy (5.8 vs. 3.9 on a 10-point scale) and tops adults’ average reported stress levels (5.8 for teens vs. 5.1 for adults)." Stress can come from various sources including parents. But can parents forcefully create interest in their child for learning? Can parents increase the capacity within their child to understand, and absorb a subject? Sure, they can force their child to study by disciplining them, shouting at them, threatening them by taking away their privileges etc. But will that help? On the contrary, by instilling worry and fear, the inherent capacity within a child actually reduces. Daniel Pink states in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us that "Science shows that the secret to high performance isn't our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but our third drive - our deep seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to love a life of purpose."
So, what can you do if your child brings back a C on his assessment?
CARE! ... And caring means it’s not about your feelings on this, but your child's and its impact on their self esteem. Try following this 4 step plan for achieving a response and communication that actually works:
Take a deep breath, or make it 10 deep breaths, count to 20, or just step out of the room. Remember that your child is noticing every facial expression and even if his back is turned towards you, he feels your vibes nice and strong. It might be worthwhile to take a pause, a moment of silence, so that you get time to organize your thoughts. Take this time to consciously remove any negative thoughts you might have. This will help you respond to the situation rather than react.
Be mindful of the capacity of your child. Some children are naturally gifted in some subjects and some are not. It's worth considering that the potential or capacity of a child may not be to be a straight A student. Sure enough, motivate your child. Encouragement is essential but with unconditional love. This may drive a child to move from B to a B+, and may eventually move even higher. Have expectations and ask your child to set goals but leave space for mistakes and failures.
Respect your child:
Acknowledge and take stock of all the qualities and interests of your child. This is important because we tend to take for granted what our children already have. If academically our child may be a straight B student but is excelling at swimming and piano, is it important to excel in every subject at school? If it comes to that, it might be a good idea to write down his qualities and achievements and put this sheet up on the refrigerator. You might just see a smile on your child’s face. Parents of teenagers, note that your child might actually find this “so not cool”, but deep down, he is grinning.
Parents cannot forcefully increase the intelligence and capacity of their child. But parents can increase the self-esteem of their child by having faith in him, by praising his qualities and achievements, nurturing his most compelling interests, and providing him with support, guidance, unconditional love, and a whole lot of positive vibes. This will empower your child. This will also increase the soul power of your child. As Shawn Anchor stated in The Happiness Advantage, "Feeling that we are in control, that we are masters of our own fate at work (or school) and at home, is one of the strongest drivers of both well-being and performance."
As parents, we have the opportunity today to plant within our children seeds of trust, growth, confidence and self worth. Go ahead! Plant those seeds. CARE!