How pressuring kids to get good grades can be a negative experience and can actually be harmful in their development.
The goal of our school careers is good grades and staying out of trouble..right?
Unfortunately, if we put a lot of pressure on kids to get good grades they can interpret that as a lot of pressure that can hinder their performance overall (and cause them to cheat).
When I was growing up, my father once said to me where my 1% went on my 99% grade in high school.
High school was a while ago, and honestly, all I remember is that he mentioned the 1%. I can’t remember if he was joking or if he was serious, I just remember the comment. That comment alone put SO much pressure on me as a high school student, and though I did really well overall, I was not happy with my performance if I didn’t receive 100%.
It’s definitely a good idea to encourage your children to succeed at school, but too much pressure can be highly stressful which can have a negative impact on their well-being. If the child doesn’t succeed in getting the good grades that are expected, their confidence can go down the drain as well.
Encouraging Good Grades (Not Forcing)
It is a good idea to encourage your children to strive for good grades. Encouraging is different than pressuring and can be much more powerful too.
Kids in middle school are going through many changes and they are trying to figure out who they are and how the world really works, big transitions and parents’ opinions on their accomplishments really matter. Which parenting style you use in this stage of life can affect their future.
Using authoritative parenting, you can encourage your kids to try their very best. Criticizing, pushing and using harsh language can send a message to the child that they must win no matter the cost. Their self-esteem could also come from external validations instead of from positive relationships with peers and parents. Here are some methods you can use to help kids lead a healthy and productive school career.
Don’t Focus On The Win
When you don’t focus on the win, but instead emphasize the effort, your child will feel better about themselves and can handle failure in a better way. Pressure can come from a parent who roots for the result and fails to mention the hard road the child took to get that win. Kids feel supported when they feel understood, and parents can help with this by focusing on the journey more than the win.
Keep The Criticism Down
Self-esteem can be damaged easily with criticism of setbacks and wrongdoings. Your child should come up with their own ways to solve problems which can help you keep the criticism down during the conversation. Let your child know just how proud you are of them, and don’t mention the wrong turn they took to get to their destination.
Lead By Example
Let your child know that good grades can help them get a good career but don’t shove that information down their throats. Simply remind them once or twice that you yourself got good grades (or didn’t) and now look at the job you have. This is a good way for kids to realize that what they do now is important for the future.
Talk to your children about being kind and empathetic towards their peers. Kindness and humanity can outweigh the importance of good grades. Explain to them that having good relationships in the workplace is essential to a happier experience at work. Remind them that awards and amazing grades are not as important as friends and family too.
If you are explaining to your child that grades don’t matter and kindness is really important, then you should not be scolding them when they come home with a poor grade. Actions speak much louder than words, so you can be putting pressure on your child to be perfect by criticizing the grade.
How To Encourage Better Grades
Set High But Realistic Expectations: It is important to set high expectations, but make sure you make them realistic too. A child cannot get the best grades if they have to split their time between studies and sports.
Help With Homework: It’s a good idea to help your child with their homework, even if you don’t remember what you learned in that grade. Read this post How To Motivate Children To Do Homework Without Fighting for homework tips.
Encourage Not Praise: Praise is good in moderation, but in order to keep their heads from getting too big you might want to find the balance between praise and encouragement. I have a helpful article for you here: Why Praising Children And Encouraging Children Are Two Different Things (Which Is Better?).
Forget Rewards: We want our children to want to earn good grades, not try to earn good grades because they get a reward for it. The reason being is that when children are older, in the teenage years, they won’t want to do their homework unless they get something in return from you. Teenagers can be expensive – from the brand new shoes that the popular kids wear to the best makeup that money can buy.
Let’s Not Go Pressuring Kids To Get Good Grades
While I’m not saying that we should let our children fail at school and not get good grades, I am saying that parents shouldn’t put too much pressure on the good grades.
With proper encouragement, children can WANT to earn good grades on their own, and they will work hard for those grades.