Help your child to succeed at school

Most people today understand the value of education and parents try very hard to pass this sense on to their children and are surprised when they fail. Parents are desperate for their children to succeed and they convey this to them. It is too familiar a scene when parents lock their children in their room to finish their homework or tell them they’re better off studying than watching a movie. Children get the message early on that they are studying to please their parents and this may cause certain problems.

The first of these is that children don’t actually take an interest in what they are studying and will only study enough to get the grades their parents can accept. Studying gets in the way of all their fun activities so it becomes a negative aspect in their life that they try to avoid. This can also promote cheating if children try to get the grades their parents want without doing the work. So you have to think about what you want to teach your children. Children internalise the values that you teach them even if their in subtle messages. Internalising means that they incorporate them into their schemas (thought patterns) and take on these values as their own. If you really want your children to value their studies then you must teach and believe that it is something for their own good. Allow them to own their own success and failure so that both will affect them.

The first thought many students have if they get a bad grade is that they will get into trouble with their parents whereas if they felt that they did badly they will try to succeed on their own accord. So what does this mean practically is that if your son/daughter comes home with a bad grade, you don’t punish them but you say something like: “you must be really upset but I’m sure you’ll do better next time.” If he/she gets a good grade then you emphasise that they must be so happy and then that you are proud. You must also keep in mind that not all children are geniuses and not all will be the first in the class so the important thing is that they put in an effort. The aim is that they try as hard as they can and then make sure they feel you are proud of them and that you believe this is enough. The good news is that if the children internalise this they will become more independent in their work and you won’t have to run after them to study. The difficult part is that you have to respect their choices and this is not always easy, especially once they are choosing their specialisation in university. Parents always believe they have the answers but sometimes they need to let their children take charge.

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