How Should We Respond to Poor Grades?

How Should We Respond to Poor Grades?

Although this new school year promises to be different in many ways, parents and educators will be faced with one common dilemma that is sure to come up—how to respond to poor grades. This is one of the most common questions I’m asked by parents and educators. Here are four important concepts that will help you maintain an appropriate perspective about grades and help ensure that our kids reach their highest potential.

We can’t learn for kids.

The first thing to remember is that the child’s report card is the child’s responsibility—it is not ours. Although it’s easy to get down on ourselves when kids perform poorly, it’s very important for our mental health, and for theirs, to remember that they are responsible for their learning and their grades.

We can’t control every action they take or decision they make.

As educators and parents, we can only improve their chances for high achievement by modeling responsibility, establishing a safe and calm environment, providing excellent instruction, and demonstrating excitement for learning.

Many highly successful people struggled with grades as children.

It’s comforting to remember that some of the world’s most successful people struggled with grades. Famous people from the past who struggled include Albert Einstein and Henry Ford. Even Jim Fay and Dr. Foster Cline are notable examples! What’s most important is that our children develop good character, curiosity, and problem-solving skills.

Remember to respond with sincere love and concern.

If we consistently demonstrate empathy, rather than anger or frustration, the odds of them overcoming their difficulties dramatically increase. Is empathy really that powerful? Yes indeed! In fact, a growing body of research is demonstrating that warmth (i.e., empathy) is strongly correlated with higher achievement and better behavior. The next time you are confronted with bad grades from your child, you might try this:

“Oh man. I bet these grades are really disappointing for you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. The good news is that this doesn’t change the way I feel about you.”

Rather than fighting with kids about their grades, consider studying my book, From Bad Grades to a Great Life!

On Tuesday, August 24, we held our FREE special event, The Single Greatest Gift Parents Can Give: A Love and Logic Back to School Event. If you missed this informative event, you can watch the replay here.


Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

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