I’m probably safe in guessing that most parents no longer use spanking as a discipline tool today to help their kids get better grades in school, but what they do use instead may still not be getting the results they’re hoping for. Adults like my parents used fear to drive the discipline they used with my seven siblings and me. They were afraid that we were not taking school seriously and may do poorly, so they used this fear to pass more fear onto us. Parents today may not spank, but they let their fear of their kids’ failure determine the discipline such as yelling, punishing, grounding, and taking away privileges.
My word of caution is, don’t do this. Modern-day scholars tell us that the negative things we allow ourselves to feel and think about, will expand. In other words, if you continue to believe you’re a victim in life, more incidents will happen to you to reinforce that belief. If you complain about what’s not right in your life, you’ll get more of the same. And if you continue to allow yourself to fear that your children will fail in school, they will live up to your expectation. And then if you force your children to continue to feel the fear you’re passing on to them, that too will expand. They will grow up to become more fearful and it will be that emotion that will determine how they live.
When your child brings the report card home, begin by doing three important things during the encounter; allow your child to hold the card and read the grades to you, remain completely quiet during the reading, and listen with 100% of your attention. Once the reading is complete, do not pass judgment or invoke consequences or punishment. Your job as a parent is to ask open ended questions that will allow your child to make his own assessment (not yours) of his performance being reflected in the report card.
Ask your child questions such as; What is your favorite grade from this marking period, Why, What is your least favorite grade, and Why. Acknowledge any joy you see in her face about a particular subject she did well in, by telling her what you see. For example, if she exhibits excitement about her grade in math, simply say to her, “You look pretty proud of your math skills, what do you think helped you get such a good grade.” If he appears to be sad while talking about a low grade in science, ask him, “What would you have liked that grade to be instead?” When he provides you with an answer, ask him what he could do to bring that grade up for the next marking period.
Please take note, your child’s homework and report card belongs to him or her, not you. A parent who uses too much control over a child and what that child owns, will end up raising a child who is less likely to take ownership of things he should, and avoid self-responsibility.
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Bill Corbett is the author of the award winning book “Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids,” and the producer & host of the cable TV show, Creating Cooperative Kids, seen on over 200 community access channels, including Longmeadow’s channel 8. You can visit his Web site www.CooperativeKids.com for further information and parenting advice.