Education Parenting

How to deal with your child getting bad results at school

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The first years of school are an exciting time for you and your kids. But what if bad marks spoil the mood?

School marks and reports are a necessary aspect of every education. They line out how your child is measuring up against the targets for each subject and help you plan learning strategies. In doing that, they don’t only measure your child’s current abilities, but let you think in the long-term.

Nevertheless, some people dread them. Sometimes they make it feel as though they reduce your child to a few numbers on a piece of paper. Especially children who struggle with certain subjects may find it damaging to their motivation, self-confidence and learning abilities.

How do you, as a parent, deal with a kid who has received a bad mark, or worse, a bad report? What is the best way to ensure your child uses it as an impulse for improvement, rather than entering a vicious cycle of frustration and bad marks? We’ve gathered some of the best advice.

Avoid getting angry

While you might feel the temptation to shout at your child and perhaps use some form of punishment, such actions really don’t help. Children with bad marks are probably upset enough as it is and adding insult to injury will only make them feel even less motivated, lower their self-esteem, and make them resentful in the long run. This is equally true for children at every age – even teenagers. Also try to avoid being passive aggressive.

Instead, demonstrate that you’re offering support and try to work as a team. Be realistic and consider your child as an individual. What are your kid’s strengths and weaknesses? Come up with a plan for the next few months and think of the ideal way to improve.

Recognise any improvement as progress

If your child has been struggling for a while with certain subjects, it’s good to put things into perspective. While you might be tempted to disregard a slight improvement by, say, one mark, it is nevertheless an improvement, and encouragement can work wonders.

Also avoid saying that you expected a better improvement than the one that actually took place. That way you’re disregarding the time and energy your child spent trying to get a better mark. Instead, say that he or she did a good job and think of new strategies for next time.

Be encouraging if the child is working better, but the marks remain the same

It might be particularly discouraging for both of you if your child has developed better learning habits but is still getting bad marks. In such cases, it is very important not to give up and don’t let your kid know that you’re disappointed.

Tell them, instead, that you’re pleased with the effort and that your kid feeling more comfortable with the subject and devise new strategies of figuring out what exactly went wrong. If the attitude is better but there isn’t any improvement, it might be an inefficient learning method.

Don’t get angry if the marks have dropped significantly between two exams or reports

While it might be a shock if your child has been doing well for a while and then has a sudden drop, again avoid the urge be too upset. If there’s such a drastic change, it’s probably because something is wrong with your child.

Consider whether there are any changes in your kid’s behaviour, or whether he or she has had any significant changes with friendships or at home. Many things can have a significant impact on your offspring. Tell your child that you’ve noticed some recent changes in behaviour and invite them to talk about it.

Don’t disregard your child’s feelings

On some occasions, you might be pleased with your child’s improvement, but your child is disappointed it’s not as good as it could have been. If you say you don’t see why he or she is upset, it might discourage your kid from wanting to improve in the future.

Instead, acknowledge the disappointment but say that you’re still pleased yourself. Offer more help – perhaps quieter study areas or a tutor to assist them in their studying. Burnout is also becoming an increasing issue. Speak to your child about whether or not they define themselves too much over their marks and school.

Be smart about restrictions

If your child really has failed because of a lack of work and a bad attitude towards school, it can be tempting to make a large-scale punishment, such as taking away their computer, phone or not letting them watch television. The problem with this approach is the wide scope.

In doing this, your child might become resentful. The time period until it can prove improvement is too long. Why not use computer or phone time as a reward for a good job on their daily homework?

Bad marks can put a considerable strain on your relationship with your child, but by taking inspiration from our tips, you may be able to use them as a force for good instead. Keep in mind that every school career is different. Especially in the first years of school, children may still need to find the right approach to school work. If you are very insecure about your child’s performance, make sure to ask teachers for advice. But most importantly: don’t let bad marks ruin your child’s fun at school and self-confidence.