School Grades and Self-Esteem

End of the school year talk with your child.

By Dr. Cheryl Andaya

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End of the Year Grades Talk

Now that the school year has come to an end, there is much relief for children until….*insert dramatic music* GRADES!!!! Ackkkk!!! Fortunately, there is another way to make it less painful.

Parents and children feel the pressure when grades come out; but, what if you did things differently this time? Knowing that the year is over, no more can be done to “fix” that grade. Sooooo why not use this opportunity to work on character, grit, and parent-child bonding.

I’ve worked with children who hide their school struggles because their parents are always punishing, scolding, and yelling at them about poor marks. One girl pleaded with me not to tell her parents about the poor grades she was currently receiving. Another teen cried as he finally broke down and told his mother that he did tell her about his difficulty in school because he didn’t want to disappoint her and have her yell at him.

Building a Supportive Stance

Sooooo, here’s my challenge, be a learning support for your child and become an approachable source for them by asking the questions below in a non-judgmental manner. By being as neutral and as calm as you can, your child will learn that you are capable of listening to them without judgement. Be curious and just LISTEN. As much as you want to interject, correct your child, or tell him/her what he/she needs to work on, RESIST! This is their time to let you know THEIR view of themselves and for you to LISTEN.

Questions to Ask

Let your child tell YOU:

  • What was the most fun this year at school?
  • What were their proudest moments this year?
  • What would they change about their past school year if they could?
  • What was the most challenging thing they did?
  • What do they feel they need to work on more?
  • What could you do to make her/him feel supported in working on this challenge?
    • “How do we tackle this challenge so you feel better about (reading, writing, math) next year?"

After the Talk

Write down what they said or record it. The hope is that next year they can reflect on some of the accomplishments and challenges that they may have perfected, skill they gained, etc.

This discussion also gives perspective on the challenges that you child may have found difficult or is proud of this past year and shed some light on grades when they come out. Hopefully, it gives you another way of viewing those grades. If your child is aware of his or her shortcomings, work as a team on how you will work together on his/her struggles during the summer and upcoming school year.  Make a plan and be supportive. Your child WANTS to do well. The point of this exercise is to gain some understanding of how your child views themselves, and to let them know you want to support them. This gives you the opportunity to see this past school year through your child’s eyes.

When grades come in, remember what you talked about with your child. Remember to work as a support, and try to see it from their perspective.

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Dr. Cheryl Andaya

Clinical Psychologist

I’m a mother and a Clinical Psychologist who works with children and their families as well as individuals reaching for their goals. Born and raised in Hawaii, I embrace diversity and help individuals find their strengths.

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