Parental guidance: It’s just a ‘progress’ report

Through this fortnightly column, Sunaina Vohra helps you keep parenting sane and simple, and guides you to trust your intuition — because, no one knows your child like you do

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Anxiety of exams wane but the stress returns manifold in the anticipation of results and report cards.

Despite being a good student I still remember receiving my yearly report card with trepidation as if the rest of my life depended on that one piece of paper. I remember after my Grade 6 exams — for which I had worked extremely hard — I broke down as soon as I received the results. Such was the build up to report cards.

We have made huge strides in technological advancement but unfortunately the human psyche in many areas still lags, and report cards and anxiety still have a strong hold on us.

As parents we forget the reason behind report cards. Parents, it’s just a “progress” report of how your child is faring at school, not a measure of his or her intelligence and it definitely does not define his or her destiny.

Yes, parents will always have the best intention for their child. However, what is debatable is how that intention is manifested to the child.

One of the complaints that parents often come to me with is that their child has started lying, resulting in an eventual breakdown of communication between them. They teach their child that he or she will be punished when they speak the truth and then wonder why their child would lie.

One child told me he forgot to do his homework so his teacher scolded him and sent a note home. His mother took away his privileges. No one asked him what made him forget his homework.

Another shared how he hit a little boy in class and was sent to the principal’s office, and Dad made him stand in the corner. He received double punishment without being asked what led to the incident.

Yet another brought his report card home with poor grades. He was locked in the bathroom with no lights till he wet himself. No one asked him how he felt about doing poorly in class.

Children suffer from anxiety to the extent they fall sick for weeks before the exams. Where does this anxiety stem from? The children fear failing or doing poorly so much that each exam seems a herculean task. This sickness then becomes their perfect excuse to buffer negative results.

In case your child does not have a great result, have you as a parent considered the possibility that he might feel that he has let you down? Most parents feel they have failed their child, but many children have shared with me that they feel they have let their parents down.

Parents have to understand that the child is judging himself based on what you think of him. If you think he is intelligent he will be confident. If you think or say that he will always fail, he assuredly will.

Coming back to the dreaded report cards, as a parent it’s important not to forget that you are the adult here — don’t force your emotions and disappointment onto the child. Give a balanced response whether it is straight As or D minuses. Your reaction has the potential to keep the child encouraged and enjoying academics or hate the rest of the school years.

If your child has done well, appreciate it. Focus the child’s attention on what he did that helped him get good results so he continues to apply that.

If the child has not done well ask how he feels about the results. It is important to get the child’s perspective and help him express his feelings. As the parent, understand what he has comprehended about his own progress, what he needs to do to better it and what support you or the school can provide him. Getting the child involved in his progress will make him take ownership and responsibility, which are key ingredients of a self-motivated child.

— Sunaina Vohra is a certified Youth and Family Life Coach at Athena Life Coaching in Dubai. For more information log on to athenalifecoaching.com or call 056-1399033.

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