How to Handle Your Child’s Poor Performance in School

bad performance in school
Photo Credit: Victor Bezrukov

Note: If you are looking for tips on how to help your child score high in exams, this article is not for you. But if you want to learn not to get stressed out when your child brings home bad grades, then read on.

J, my 8-year old daughter, has just finished her examination the week before last. And last week, the teachers began to discuss about the exam papers and every student got to know how well they did in the examination.

“My friend did not bring home his Math paper because he is scared that his dad will scold him for not doing well.” J told me.

“How badly did he score?” I asked.

“83 marks” replied J.

I was dumbfounded. His result is considered very good and here he is, worrying that if the parents find out, he will be “lectured.”

If you think this is an isolated case, think again. In today’s competitive world, academic excellence is top on every parent’s list.

There’s more to life than good grades

Personally, I don’t overly focus on academic. Because that is not the ONLY factor that determines the success and happiness of a person. If it is, the wealthiest and happiest persons on Earth should be professors of top universities in the world. Apparently, they are not.

Getting good grades in school is nice to have but if your child can’t deliver, that is not the end of the world for him. For a nice consolation, look at the world’s top entrepreneurs, most of them are university dropouts. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are two good examples.

Parents should not emphasize too much on the scores. That is only a small piece of a big pie. Instead, teach them to be independent, think creatively and differently, solve life problems, self-discipline, money management skills, emotional intelligence, self empowerment, healthy eating, meaning of happiness, and so much more.

Don’t expect perfection but progress

Let’s face it. No one is perfect. That includes you and me. And why should our children be different? They are not perfect too. I am guilty of this one too. I was reviewing the exam papers with J and at one point I realized I was too harsh on her. You know the kind of “How could you make such a silly mistake!” reaction. Not that she fared badly. She scored high marks in all her papers, and yet I am still not satisfied. How silly could that be!

We always want our children to be perfect. But that is something which is quite impossible to achieve. Why not we change our expectation: instead of focusing on being perfect, we take note of the growth and progress in the children. I am not a big fan of the school’s education system. They tend to compare how you perform with your peers. If you are below average in the group, you are labeled “problem” child. Why compare to his friends while you should do a comparison within?

Getting bad grades in school does not equate bleak future

Parents tend to freak out when the child brings home bad grades. Because they think that the child’s future has gone out the window. This always puts too much pressure on the parents as well as the child. We have so many examples to show that children who did badly in school when they were young are now living comfortable and happy lives. The opposite is also true.

What does that tell you? The number of A’s you get in school is not a ticket to a brilliant future. Make it a point to send the message to your child that it’s okay to fail in life. Tell your child it’s okay to get lower marks than his friends. Never give your child the impression that his future is in jeopardy if he fails his exams. In fact, that is the last thing you want your child to believe.

No wonder there are so many young suicide cases during the exam seasons… especially in Asia.

Final words

Despite what I have said, I am not trying to tell you to ignore your child’s performance in school. You can do anything within your means to help your child cope with school. But don’t put unnecessary pressure on you if your child still lags after all you have done. What is more important is not the string of A’s, but how to help your child realize his full potential by leveraging on his strengths. Also tell your child you accept and love him unconditionally and that includes regardless of how he performs in school.

See Also…

Funny (and Not So Funny) Things Happened in School… and How I Handled Them

How to make school enjoyable

7 Can’t-Fail Techniques for Building Self-Esteem in Children

My Recent Parenting Challenges