It’s report card time. Most parents aspire to have their children "do well" at school. Sometimes our desires for our children’s "success" lead us to act in ways that we think are helpful, but in fact can be very detrimental. A common mistake is emphasizing letter grade achievement rather than effort and improvement – or to usurp the responsibility of school work from our children.
Here are some common problematic beliefs and attitudes that may result:
- The "pleasing" child may work hard to win your approval with the good marks that clearly impress you. Sadly, they may also believe that if they don’t maintain their grade point average they will fall out of your favor.
- The child that finds academic learning a challenge may believe that they have failed you or are less lovable or worthwhile to you because you would prefer them to be smarter.
- The child may feel that both school and parents are on their back. The pressure and hassles from adults about "their school business" makes them oppositional and defiant to adult control, so they stubbornly stop learning. Marks fall, truancy begins, dropping out may follow.
- The child may believe that they don’t need to take responsibility for their homework and schooling, "after all, mom and dad seem to have taken control of that. They’ll remind me, coax me, do the work for me. It seems to be their responsibility to keep me on track."
To help avoid these pitfalls, try this "report card parenting rule."
Parenting Rule: When you child brings home their report card, Adlerian counselor and educator Linda Maier recommends that you say ONLY the following:
- Thanks for showing me your report card.
- How do you feel about it?
- Do you need anything from me?
There are ways that you can be a resource to your child and to work as a "home-&-school team." We’ll discuss the best ways to be supportive in future articles.