Paano na kung bagsak si bunso? Hardworking father Teody Maranan’s voice cracks as he recalls the time when one of his children, the lovely bunso of the family, surprisingly failed in school. It painful for him to realize that he, as a parent, he had his shortcomings as well.
Accept that it happens to the best of us
“Naging sobrang lenient din kami siguro,” Teody admits. He reveals it was excruciating for a parent to know that his child was performing badly in school. Sheryl*, mom of two, accepts the fact, that it happens even to the very best of us—parents and kids alike. No one is to be blamed. Still, what could be behind bad academic performance?
Focus on the hows and not the whys
Vida Joyce Mangaoang, a guidance counselor who has been in practice for 10 years, states that, “There are a lot of reasons. Sometimes, it is a combination of factors. Is the child performing at par of his abilities? Is there a learning disability that requires special education? Or is the child acting out because of a stressful situation at home?” She confirms that proper assessment is crucial to determining the underlying factors behind such behavior and performance of a child.
Mel Levine, M.D., author of A Mind at a Time, says, “The stress should be on how a child is the way she is rather than why she is the way she is.” All too often, asking why your child is the way she is usually leads a parent to blame himself. It would be more productive if parents observed their child and tried to understand how she thinks.
Listen to her and to her teachers
As for Teody, he recalls how he dealt with the situation: “We talked to her. Hindi namin siya pinagagalitan. We reminded her to study hard, to improve her grades, and told them that we, as parents, will also work hard for them.” He says his child listened, but she didn’t improve her grades immediately. However, he admits that he never approached his child’s teachers regarding her failed grades. When helping your child, make sure to talk to her teachers for their assessment but more importantly, make sure your conversation with your child isn’t one way. Listen to her.
Help her set tangible goals
Teody thinks that the competition between siblings may have given a good deal of encouragement to his youngest child. His youngest daughter was challenged—in a positive way—by her older sister’s success, being a consistent dean’s lister and now a registered nurse. “Na-challenge din siya. At sabi niya nga hindi daw siya titgil hanggang di rin niya naabot ang pangarap niya.”
Help your child find her strengths
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Despite academic difficulty being frustrating for both parents and kids, Vida Joyce advises: “As parents know your child well and nurture his confidence and self-esteem. While academic success contributes a lot to his perception and feeling of self-worth, it is not the only measure of success in life. There are different kinds of intelligences that come with activities like music, sports, arts, and the like. Parents should also understand that we are all intelligent in different ways.” Help your child identify her strengths and work on what she loves she loves. Don’t force her to do well in everything but don’t let her think that a failed grade is okay with you as well.
Your Child’s Education doesn’t stop in School
Parents should understand that children can’t pin down the problem on their own, even those kids who are trying hard to overcome obstacles in school. All kids learn everything first at home. So, take this opportunity to get to know your child better and to understand her strengths. Not everyone is talented in everything, there are other types of intelligences. Together, help her identify what to focus on and help her reach her goals. As Levine says, “Many children view their teachers as daytime parents; as well, they ought to recognize their parents, in part, as night and weekend teachers. There should never be a vast divide between school life and home life.”
Source: Vida Joyce Mangaoang, UST graduate, guidance counselor at Don Mariano Memorial State University in La Union Teody Maranan, postman, Philippine Postal Corporation-Region 1, father of four. Mel Levine, M.D., A Mind at a Time * Not her real name.