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Are you responsible for your child's poor marks?
Sanaya Dalal
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June 14, 2007

You've spent the last few months anxiously anticipating your teenage child's board examinations, and consequently, his/ her results. You did everything a dutiful parent can do -- you woke up at dawn each day to get him started studying, you made endless cups of coffee to keep him awake, you gave up television so as not to distract him, and you shelled out tons of cash to ensure that he received the best tutorials outside of school.

And now, with the exam results around the corner, you're waiting for your payoff. Of course, you want your child to do well, to gain admission into an honourable institute of learning, and to settle into a lucrative, well-founded career -- after all, you only have his best interests at heart.

So, when the results are out, and Junior does not do as well as expected, or worse, fails, he has only himself to blame. You did everything you could to ensure his success, and he let you down! Right?

WRONG!

That's the problem with most parents today. Their hopes for their children's bright future gets them so worked up that they lose focus of the most important factor -- the child himself. The stigma attached to failing is played up unknowingly by parents, leading the child to feel alienated, guilty, depressed, and in extreme cases, suicidal.

Kids want to succeed too

'How could you do this to us? We know you're smarter than these marks imply! You've disappointed your mother/ father and me, after everything we've done for you!' How many children have been the target of these harsh words!

Some parents tend to pin so much hope on a child's success that their own feelings of disappointment and failure are hard to cope with; they end up venting their frustrations on the child. At such times, the child's own feelings are overlooked. They are often sounded out by their parents, when what they actually need is support and understanding.

Parents need to understand that their child may be feeling frustration and pain at failing too; the marks are not always what a youngster deserves. A feeling of hopelessness after putting in the hardest possible effort can be a lot to bear. Plans of celebrations with friends who have fared well, and looking forward to taking admission in a reputed college, are also dashed.

You need to be there for your children when they are facing a hard time, not bog them down with your own feelings of anger and disappointment. Youngsters need to know that they can rely on their parents no matter what, and that academic failure is not the end of the world. Of course, if late night Internet surfing and lack of attention to studying are the causes of failure, you need to tackle them, but not without establishing the root of such behaviour first.

You may be responsible

Often, parents fail to realise that it is their own behaviour and attitude towards their children which dictates whether the latter will perform well academically or not.

Yes, you may have woken up in the wee hours each day, and emptied your pockets to pay for coaching classes, but that is not all that will determine a child's success. Too much pressure on a youngster will also lead to nervousness, distraction and faring poorly in examinations. Your son/ daughter needs to be assured of your love regardless of the report card he/ she brings home.

Another factor parents often fail to consider is how their own equation with each other may affect a child's performance. If your marriage is on the rocks, your daily fights/ arguments with your spouse could be negatively affecting your teenager. He/ she will be distracted, and studies will take a backseat as a struggle ensues to accept the domestic discord at home.

While you believe that you are doing everything possible to ensure his/ her success, you fail to realise that such matters take on gigantic proportions in the minds of a youngster. For a teenager, the parents' marriage is of far greater consequence than the board exams, and family fights may have negative consequences on his/ her success.

So before you sound out your kid about not faring well or failing, assess the role you play as a parent, and how it accounts for the failure.

Here are a few pointers on how you can help your child cope with failure, and learn a valuable lesson from the setbacks suffered in life:

~ Make sure you are there for your child to lean on in tough times. Failure may depress him/ her, but all kids need to know they can count on Mom and Dad no matter what. Talk about what happened, why it happened, and allow your child to express his/ her emotions regarding the situation.

~ Give your children a chance to explain their failures -- there may be a valid reason for not doing well, one that you are not aware of. And if you jump down his/ her throat about faring poorly, chances are he/ she will never turn to you with an explanation, or with any other problem for that matter.

~ Don't expect more of your kids because your friends and acquaintances expect more from theirs -- your friend's daughter may have scored 93.6 percent in SSC, but that doesn't mean you expect the same from your daughter. She may have different strengths, and academics may not be one of them.

~ Teach your children that winning isn't everything in life. Laboured efforts should be rewarded even when the outcome isn't as impressive as it should be, and failure should be accepted gracefully as one of life's many lessons.

~ Help boost your children's self-esteem by praising them for what they are good at, instead of bringing them down about academic failure constantly -- this may translate into more self-confidence and better grades.

~ Finally, and most importantly, make sure your children know you love them unconditionally. They need to know they can rely on your love for them no matter what -- even when they fail an important examination.

Have you gone through a board result with your child? Share your experience and advice with other Get Ahead readers.

Are you a student who has gone through a board exam? Do you have suggestions you would like to share with parents whose children have appeared for the board exam this year? Do you have advice for students who have given the board exam this year? Send it to us, and we will share the best advice with other Get Ahead readers right here.


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