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How To Feel Better About A Child's Bad Grade


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Insights and Ideas from Smart Love teachers and tutors on how to help your children have a successful school year!

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Parents can feel surprised, frustrated, and even angry when their child receives a lower than expected grade on a report card or test. It's normal for parents to have their own emotions, but it's important to avoid sharing these upset feelings or reactions with their child. When parents do share these kinds of feelings, children not only feel bad about receiving a poor grade, but can also feel rejection and disconnection from their parents. Kids can feel like their performance in school affects their relationship with their parent. Instead of parents sharing their feelings with their child, it's best to share their feelings with a spouse, or a close friend or family member.


When children have the added burden of their parents' disappointment on their shoulders, this can insert insecurity and/or anxiety affecting their confidence and resiliency in school. Children may worry in school about their parent's reactions to their performance - replacing their focus on school work with their worries about their parents expectations. All children have a natural and internal desire to do well in school and most likely know if and when they could have done better on a test. When parents express their disappointments, it only makes children feel worse and does not serve or aid them in feeling good about trying to improve their grades.


Instead of telling your child how you feel about their grade, ask your child what they think about it. You may say something like, "How do you feel about your grade?" "What was it like for you to get this grade?" or "How do you think this class is going for you?" It is important to listen to how your child feels about their grade while putting your emotions aside. This helps your child begin to process their own feelings without worrying about helping you, their parent, feel better. Keep in mind that children can often feel bad about a grade even if they don't share their feelings with you.


If your child says something along the lines of "I'm okay with it", "It's not that bad", or other statements dismissing their performance, it's important not to challenge them here. Statements like these mean that your child is not ready to talk about their grade. Take your child's hint that they do care, but need their own time to reflect or process it. Parents can say, "It's okay if you do not want to talk about it right now, but I am here when you're ready to think some more about this together" or "I hear you feel okay about your grade but another part of you may feel differently. We can talk about all of your feelings together." Also, "I'll never be upset with you for what was difficult. Instead, we can look at how to help you with that."


Remember this grade is just a moment in time and your relationship with your child is more important. Many people hardly recall specific grades that they received in school, but they are able to recall their parents' responses. Helping children feel connected and supported builds their resiliency and helps them feel motivated to try again.


If you really feel your child is struggling with their grades, consider scheduling a meeting with their teacher to review what kinds of supports are available to help them do better in school. Engaging your child’s teacher and school supports also helps take pressure out of the parent-child relationship so you can remain more available as a parent and sidestep the evaluative role of the teacher while still seeking support.

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