CBSE Class 12 results are out and there's joy and disappointment in equal measure. As is always the case, this time too, there will be a group of students and parents quite happy with the outcome while an equal number or more will be unhappy. Disappointment could stem from:
- Failure to clear the exams
- Under-performance (or should we say over-expectations)
In this situation, it is extremely important for parents to handle the situation in a calm manner. The last thing they should do is to push the already 'down' child into further depression. The famous old statement failure is the stepping stone to success is most relevant on a day like today.
A study titled ‘Academic Stress, Parental Pressure, Anxiety and Mental Health among Indian High School Students’ authored by Sibnath Deb et al., was published in the International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences in 2015. According to it, the academic stress Indian children faced was directly related to the parental pressure put on them. It states, ‘Nearly two-thirds (63.5 per cent) of the students reported stress due to academic pressure – with no significant differences across gender, age, grade, and several other personal factors. About two-thirds (66 per cent) of the students reported feeling pressure from their parents for better academic performance.’
So, this year do things a little differently and make sure you never say the following statements to your child on the day her results are declared.
10 things to never say to your child:
- If only you had worked a little harder. This statement shows that you don’t have faith in the efforts put in by your child and will never be satisfied with the marks he gets. This leads him to believe that he will always fall short of your expectations, and he will not give his best in the future.
- What future can you have with these marks? Your duty is to motivate your child to work harder and aim higher. She needs to learn how to move on, despite setbacks. Painting a bleak future for her will only depress her and she will believe that she is incapable of achieving anything good in her life.
- This is because of the company you keep. Yes, it is important to keep your children away from bad influences, but you must remember that each child has his own capacity to learn and process information. A child who studies for just two hours a day can score more than a child who studies for six hours a day. So, if your child is friends with a topper, it does not mean he will automatically start to score better. The company he keeps matters but does not necessarily determine his academic success.
- This is what happens when you are addicted to the Internet. As a parent, you cannot and should not blame the Internet for everything. It's true that Internet addiction is a worrying problem for this generation; but, if used constructively, the Internet is a limitless resource for useful information. Find out what problems your child is facing in studies rather than portraying the Net as a monster that needs to be slayed.
- You know we can’t afford donations to seek admission. This statement will make your child feel like she is a liability for you and will hurt her self-esteem. You need to ensure that when she faces a setback, or even failure, she knows that ultimately she can achieve great things in life if she sets her mind to it. A setback should not become the yardstick by which all her performances are measured in future.
- How come your friends scored more marks? Making comparisons doesn’t improve your child’s grades or help him perform better. These statements will only make him hate himself and feel inferior to his friends. He might also start to resent his friends and end up feeling lonely.
- You should be ashamed of yourself! If your child has performed poorly, she is already blaming herself for a lot of things. You do not need to add to her guilt trip. Also, when you say something like this, it means you are ashamed of her as well.
- You are a failure! This is probably the worst thing a parent can say to his child. When you make such a definitive statement about him, he will only see himself the way you described him just now and will not be able to move past the image that you have inadvertently built for him.
- Is this why I pay so much for your tuitions? Don’t be surprised if your child turns around and says, “I never asked you to!” When you blame her for your decisions, she is bound to feel resentful. Instead, focus on her performance and calmly ask her if she can figure out what happened this year that led to her poor results. Also, discuss with her how you can help her better her scores next year.
- How will I face the society? When you say such a thing to your child (in relation to academics or anything else), it just shows that the society and your ego is more important to you than him and his happiness. Help him achieve more by being supportive of him and his efforts.
Other important tips:
Arundhati Swamy, a Chennai-based counsellor and the Head of Parent Engagement Programs at ParentCircle shares the following tips.
How should you react if your child’s results are poor?
- It’s natural to feel disappointed, frustrated and even angry when your child gets less than mediocre results. It’s difficult to hide the overwhelming emotions, so it’s best to allow yourselves to feel them. However, give yourselves a time-out and take time to calm yourselves down. This will prevent you from having an emotional outburst in front of your child.
- It’s alright to share your disappointment with your child about her performance. If you deny feeling disappointed, she will know you are pretending and that will cause her more distress.
- Give your child some space and time to deal with the situation and his emotions. At the same time, be alert, and respond to any indication that he needs to talk or be comforted.
- Avoid the blame game; either with your child or the school or the system. Once things settle down, evaluate what you can do differently to support your child to do better next time. Bringing up old stories and dishing out advice will not help. Ask her how you can help and support her. Look ahead, while learning from the recent experience.
- State your expectations clearly and see whether they match your child's expectations. More importantly, let him know that you still love him, no matter what.
- Do not withdraw your child’s extra-curricular activities as a punishment. Instead, help him plan his time effectively.
- Do not take full responsibility for what happened. This will absolve your child of any self-responsibility. Instead, help him evaluate what went wrong and let him draw up an action plan for improvement
What do you do if your child fails in a subject?
If your child has failed in a subject he likes, he will feel shocked and disappointed with himself. If it’s a subject he dislikes, he might feel indifferent with the results and want to give up. Depending on the situation, help him deal with his feelings in the following manner:
- Acknowledge whatever your child is feeling. Listen quietly to all that she has to say. Venting out is a good emotional release.
- If your child has failed in a subject he likes, help him discover what went wrong. Was it overconfidence or other factors?
- If your child has failed in a subject she dislikes, her protests will last longer. Be patient and wait for her to calm down before talking about what needs to be done.
- Ask your child what extra support and help he needs and focus on gradual improvements with small achievable goals. Set realistic targets.
What you say and how you react to your child’s achievements and failures has a huge impact on her self-esteem and her future success in life. So, work as a team to achieve great heights and prepare her to be a confident individual who is not afraid of failures.
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