Q: Our ninth-grade son always manages to get As and Bs on his report card, but just before the report card comes out, his grades take a complete dive. Should we punish him for this or just accept this imperfection?
A: Your son is obviously smart enough to know that if he coasts the last couple of weeks of the grading period, he’s still going to make good grades. He’s like the runner who’s way out in front and knows he’s going to win the race, so he gives less than his all on the final stretch.
My feeling about this is that you should just, as you put it, accept this little imperfection. It’s not going to affect his chances of going to a decent college (and all this agony over one’s child getting into the “right” school is a waste of emotional energy anyway). When he’s in a more competitive environment, where his performance does affect something significant, like his chances of going to, say, medical school, I predict he’ll step up to the plate and knock the ball out of the park.
Take a deep breath. Relax. Do yourself a favor and stop all the monitoring. It’s only detracting from your ability to enjoy life to the fullest.
Q: Her teacher just informed me that my daughter frequently says things that hurt the feelings of other girls in her class. For example, when recess is over, she will turn to another child and say, “We’re going back in because of you.” When someone raises her hand in class, my daughter might say, “You don’t know that answer!” She’s also told girls that she won’t be their friend if they don’t give her things or do things for her. What could be causing this? How do you suggest we handle this? The principal wants to call a meeting to discuss it.
A: I have to wonder why the teacher and principal waited nearly the entire school year to inform you of this problem. At this point in the school year, assuming your daughter has a typical summer break, I think you can probably sit on her hard enough to stop this, but I don’t think you can sit long enough at this point to prevent the problem from recurring when school starts back in August.
As for why it’s happening, that’s anyone’s best guess. Children don’t need to be having problems to become a problem. I think any attempt to discover the psychological root of the problem is going to be a dead end. The other girls are going to pull back from her eventually, but that’s probably just going to make matters worse. So, sit! Make her stop before this develops into serious a social problem.
Develop some simple means of obtaining feedback from the teacher at the end of every school day. One incident means she’s confined to her room after school and goes to bed immediately after supper, which should end no later than 6:30 p.m., even if you need to move it up. Mind you, one incident, no matter how “serious,” is enough to merit confinement and early bedtime. Anything less than a no-tolerance policy isn’t going to be worth the effort.
A psychologist, Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at www.rosemond.com.