If you’re like me, you tried to hide something from your academic career from your parents every now and then. Even as a good student, messing up on a test or a bad progress report could spark a very uncomfortable conversation that could lead to World War III.
Of course, students should always be transparent with their parents (pun definitely intended), but there are also a few things you can do to reduce the pressure and help your child succeed in a healthy way.
Share Your Own Experiences
It’s easy to tell a student that they should be getting a certain grade, or that they should take a certain class because it would look great for college, but did you? Tell your child what your life was like when you went to school. Be honest and share the things you were good at, as well as the things you struggled with. You will appear less…um…strict…and more relatable. And it’s good to at least be relatable if you want your child to share your problems with you, right?
There’s a lot of pressure on students to outperform their peers and BE THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME. Everything about school is competitive, and that’s a good thing. Competition breeds excellence. What isn’t good is the tendency to place unnecessary stress on your child in an attempt to be successful. Our recommendation (among other tips) starts with expressing to them that the only person they are in competition with is themselves.
Now, before you grab your torches and pitchforks and come get me for coddling your children, think about this: Isn’t it better for a student to do well and then outperform themselves, rather than worry about what everyone else is doing? Just sayin’.
Be Their Ally
You hate finding your child’s less-than-stellar report card stuffed in a drawer as much as they hate hiding it there. We’re all human, and we all fall short sometimes. Acknowledge it! Let your child know that finding solutions and success is more productive than placing blame and starting fights. If you’re child is struggling, ask them why! They could be having an issue learning the material due to ADHD or other special needs, or they could be having a serious personal issue that is affecting their ability to focus. Whatever it is, show them that you can work it out together!
Cut Out The Superlatives
To the average student, all parents talk about is getting good grades so their child can go to a good school so that they can graduate and find a good job that will pay they good money.
Of course that’s something to aspire to, but here’s the thing: Your definition of “good” might be “not-good-enough” to somebody else! Some people would be ecstatic to find out their child was accepted to UCLA, and maybe some wouldn’t be caught within 100 yards of the place! Some people just want to graduate, learn a trade, and start working right away, while others want to climb to the peak of Mount Academia. You don’t know your child’s goals until you talk about them, but in the meantime, take it easy on the “good” talk, okay? Success is subjective. Encourage them to maximize their potential, instead. They’ll be much more motivated.
Talk About Your Dreams
When you were their age, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did it happen? Did you change your mind? Did you settle? These are all great things to talk about with your child. Somebody wise once said, “Don’t tell people your dreams because they will try to talk you out of them”. This is true–ask anyone who ever wanted to do anything ambitious! The key here is to talk about them without judgment. It’s easy to tell a child that their dream job doesn’t make all that much money, but an honest conversation about your aspirations could do a lot of good. Not only will you bond over them, but it’s also great to share goals regularly to keep morale high!
Parents, we know there isn’t an instruction manual for raising children. And you’re doing a great job as it is. Raising an achievement-oriented child is a great thing! Just make sure you show a little empathy, too. You and your child should work as a team as they go through school. The closer you are, the stronger your teamwork will be, and the more likely your child will be to succeed and make you proud!