On Saturday 8 September 2018 I was on Capitalk100.4fm Weekend Chart talking about how parents can prepare for poor academic results from their children. I decided to expand more on this as its now that time of the year again when children are sitting for their final examinations. Many parents/guardians during this time feel a lot of pressure as they are determined to prove to everyone how so academically gifted their child is.
More pressure even lies with the child as they dread disappointing their parents/guardians who have already laid out future plans and aspirations for them. Some children have already been told that you are going to be a doctor or a lawyer. Others have been told their A level combination (without being consulted of cause). This time of the year is accompanied by many sleepless nights, television and casual internet use bans. Of cause not forgetting probably the beatings when one fails to show how serious they are with their studies. For some this is heaven on earth as they are now exempted from their usual chores. All they are supposed to do is eat, read, eat more and read again.
However, despite all these preparations there are only two outcomes to this matter – its either your child will pass or she/he will fail. Now here comes the gist of my story – how prepared are we as parents/guardians for the later? Our children always want to please us but sometimes the results may come out different from what we expected. Yes, no parent wants their child to fail in school. Think of all that you invested – finances, time, moral and ooh yes, i’l repeat again… finances!! Finances make parents go crazy if our children fail. And in my view, dad goes crazier.
I believe that it is very important for parents/guardians to heavily involve themselves in their children’s academics. Here I’m talking about homework, school meetings, interacting with teachers and materially providing what is needed at school. This way a parent will better understand the subjects their child has weaknesses and strengths. With such positive parenting support, children are more likely to remain focused. Being involved in your child’s academics will also help you realize whether or not your child is academically gifted. If then your child is not academically gifted that is not the end of the world. There are many paths she/he can follow and become successful. Unfortunately many parents/guardians have limited success to academics.
Now comes the failure talk. As a parent you are a critical force in your child’s development thus she/he looks up to you for motivation and mindset development. This talk is very crucial and can happen anytime and anywhere fed by your knowledge and acceptance of your child. Talk about your child’s interests, the career path they want to take, what they are doing to prepare for their exams and most importantly explore options. Some worst mistakes we make when talking to our children about failure are viewing failure as negative rather an opportunity, talking too much and simply just not listening to them. Haelle (2016) notes that the messages we get from our parents, whether explicitly or symbolically or subconsciously, stay with us and are very hard to unlearn and to overcome. If they’re not helpful, she says sometimes we have internalized faulty beliefs or beliefs that don’t serve us.
The takeaway is that when your child is struggling on something or has setbacks, don’t focus on their abilities, focus on what they can learn from it, Haimovitz says. One way, she says, is to ask a child: “How can you use this as a jumping-off point?”