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How to talk with your kids about grades

School is in session and that means…GRADES!

Whether your kids tend to earn A’s, B’s, C’s, or F’s, kids often define “who they are” based on the grades they receive.

  • “I’m an A-student”
  • “I’m not very smart”
  • “I’m an average student”

Unfortunately, when kids label themselves based on grades, it can have a negative impact on their self-esteem – even for “A-students”. Why? Because if they bring home an A they feel great about themselves….If they bring home a C they get down on themselves. This creates the yo-yo self esteem that we’ve talked about in earlier articles.

So how can you talk with your kids about grades so that their self-esteem doesn’t rise and fall based on their grade point average?

The key is to talk about grades as feedback.

Feedback is just a result that occurs based on an action that was taken – it is a measure of how well they learned the material. Grades don’t mean that they are “smart” or “dumb”…”good” or “bad” - it just means they either learned what they needed to know or they didn’t.

When kids learn to interpret grades as feedback and not “who they are”, it enables them to deal with both good grades and bad grades without impacting their self-esteem.

So how might this work?

Say your child brings home an A. Instead of saying something like, “You’re so smart. You’re an ‘A-student’!” You could say, “Wow – you made some great grades. Looks like you really learned the material.”

Do you see how the first comment “labels” the child whereas the second comment is objective feedback on the child’s work?

What if you child brings home a “C”? This is a great time to say something like, “Doesn’t look like you learned the material that you needed to know for this test. Let’s put together a plan to make sure you learn what you need to know to move forward….Otherwiseyou may fall behind and future tests will be even more difficult.”

Do you see how this approach tackles the low grade as a problem to be solved? This enables the child to focus on improving the grade versus feeling bad about himself for making a poor grade.

This approach works great for homework as well. Decide with your child what grade represents solid knowledge of the material - is it 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%? Once you come to an agreement, let the child know that any paper that receives a grade below the threshold will need to be reworked to ensure that he understands the material well enough to move forward in class. When you take this approach, redoing the work isn’t punishment; it’s striving for learning and excellence.

The most important takeaway is to work with your kids to see grades as feedback – not as a reflection of who they are or of how smart they are. When kids learn to see grades as feedback of their effort instead of as a “label”, they are able to separate how they feel about themselves (their self-esteem) from the grade.

Have a great school year!

Mission I AM workshops for Children are the quickest and the easiest way to kickstart your child’s discovery into how to be more confident at school, at home and in life in general. Our programs are designed to SKYROCKET YOUR CHILD’s CONFIDENCE and help them create a vision for their future. Your child will walk away RENEWED, RE-ENERGIZED and READY TO SOAR.
For more information on our programs and to book a free consultation session for your child, get in touch with us.
Meena Gajria Furtado is a certified NLP Practitioner, certified WISDOM CoachTM,, Trainer with John Maxwell Group and an expert in helping children.

Copyright © 2011 Renaye Thornborrow, AdventuresinWisdom.com. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission from Renaye Thornborrow.

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