It’s OK to not score straight ‘As’

Samir Parikh, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 20, 2012

Society places a very high premium on academic performance. The scenario today is that the marks your child gets defines not just who she or he is but also who you are. It is, however, not possible for every child to get a distinction, and it is important to remember that there is a world outside academics as well. There are a few points we need to keep in mind.
1 Understand your child’s difficulty: There are many reasons for children to not do well academically. Rather than dismissing them as being disinterested, understand what it is that is causing these academic difficulties. Is it attention problem, processing difficulty or some emotional distress?.
2 Accept limitations: Every child can’t get 95% in every subject every time. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Accept your children’s limitations, identify their strengths and help them reach their potential.
3 Invest additional time to help your child: For some teens, having a parent around can help them study. Do not hover but be around for them. Help them understand concepts they might be having difficulties with. Also set some rules and boundaries.
4 Explore other avenues of interest: For teenagers with academic difficulties, their sense of self-worth often takes a beating amidst all the negative criticism. It is important for them to take up other activities they can excel in and be recognised for.
5 Give positive strokes: Due to the feedback they receive, teens often get de-motivated and avoid studies altogether. As a parent, acknowledge the efforts your child is putting in.
6 Talk to your child about his or her difficulties: Academic problems can have social and emotional consequences. Be a friend to your children and talk to them about the difficulties they are facing, without judgement or reprimand.
7 Be in regular touch with the teachers: In the case of students with academic problems, it is important for parents and teachers to be on the same page. Rather than engaging in blame games, remember that you both want the best for the child. Keep in touch with your child’s teachers and tackle the difficulties together.
8 Do not burden your child with expectations: It is natural for parents to have aspirations for and expectations from their children. However, it can be very damaging for a child to feel that he/she disappointed their parents. Don’t put the extra pressure in the form of your expectations on the young soul.
9 Celebrate your child’s success: It is sad that it is always the mistakes that are highlighted and dwelt upon. Things would drastically change for the better if we were to give the same, if not more, importance to the things our children did well in.
10 Remember, every child is unique: There’s no single definition of the perfect individual. We all differ not just in our skills and aptitudes, but in our ambitions and ideologies as well. Respect and celebrate your child’s uniqueness.
The author is director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare