The Results Are In

The Results Are In

Nothing makes your heart been faster than those five magic words…

I got my test back.

This is the make-it or break-it time of the day. Good grade = good night. Bad grade = moody and frustrated, maybe some self-deprication, possibly some yelling, and most assuredly the end of time as we know it.

Sometimes, our kids take a bad grade hard, too.

But, parents take the brunt of it.

Back in my day…

I remember getting bad grades in school and not really caring. I also remember my mom throwing a fit about a D here and there… and there… and there.

But, I distinctly remember thinking “Meh, what’s the big deal? I’ll have another test next week.”

For a kid that was really good at the Maths, I seemed to have a bit of trouble understanding cumulative grading.

My daughter – different than me – was passing every class with A’s and B’s except one. Conveniently, the one she wasn’t studying for. But, I simply couldn’t wrap my head around why she just didn’t care. It’s as if she didn’t get that grades were cumulative!

Oh yeah…

It’s about the big picture

I’m not a huge proponent of the public school grading systems; exams and the like. It’s not the grade to me. It’s the effort put in.

It’s just that grades seem to be our measure for what effort was put in during school. However, in my daughter’s case, I knew the other classes – for the most part – were easy for her. So, it was tough for me to consider these classes she was sliding by in as an off-set to the class was doing poorly in.

So, I’d arbitrarily go online and check her grades. That’s actually really frustrating that papers don’t come home anymore. But, I digress…

It went like this:

  • I’d check her grades some time during the day.
  • They’d be crap.
  • I’d get mad.
  • I couldn’t yell at her because she was in school – doing poorly!
  • I’d get madder.

By the time she got home, she had no idea what was about to come at her.

…but it sure did ruin her day!

A better way

In reality, grades are a great way to teach the lesson of consistency. To teach responsibility. To teach a work ethic.

Good grades are an expectation. They aren’t something that deserves a reward. In that way, bad grades don’t necessarily deserve a punishment… under a simple condition:

They tried.

I actually sat down and asked my daughter what was going on with that class – when I wasn’t furious. (That’s an important part.)

It turned out, she didn’t really get the first bits, and everything was compounding on top of that information. There was no way for her to catch back up without telling the teacher she never understood the stuff at the beginning. I get it. That’s embarrassing. So, she just gave up.

We talked about how if she failed that “one class,” her GPA would drop overall. The F and the lower GPA are going to make her the lesser candidate when it comes to Uni.

And then I hit her with the big one:

You’re better than this. You just quit. Is that how life is going to be? The one thing that’s troublesome, you’re just not going to do. Just give up…

What if it’s that one thing you really want? A lot of times in life those things you really want are hard. Most of the time, if it’s easy it’s not worth having or doing anyway.

I don’t really care if the grade never goes up – as long as I know you’re putting in absolutely everything you have to put in. The only way to truly fail is to give up.

The Put-down vs. The Pick-up

Think about those people that put you down. When someone insults you and yells at you, you stop wanting to spend time with them.

In some situations, like your job or your relationship, you can’t just not spend time with someone. At that point, the constant put downs begin to simply ingrain into your head and you start believing them.

…not something we want to do to our kids, right?

But, on the flip side, those people that are constantly encouraging you are not only kept around, but you tend to ask them for advice – or go to them when you’re feeling like you can’t do something.

How about this?

Bad grades (and missed expectations) are going to happen. Try this the next time another bad grade comes in:

A. Go Yell. Not at them, though. Get the anger out – and if you make a bunch of funnies noises while you do it, you’ll have a tough time staying angry.
B. Ask what the deal is – even if you think “they didn’t study” is the answer
C. Set the expectation that grades are their primary “job”
D. Remind them they’re more than capable and that you believe in them
E. Take their car away

In fairness, I did take her car away. Punishments that fit the crime are still important parts in lessons. Grades are their responsibility. If they can’t hold up their responsibilities, they don’t get their privileges. Just because I’m saying to be positive and encouraging doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t feel the “loss” of their actions.

Whether she got the initiative from refusing to quit or whether she got it from having to walk, doesn’t matter. I feel better about parenting her into a positive situation that way.

And, yes. It was incredibly hard to not just yell.


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