By V. Michael Santoro, M. Ed.
It is important that as a parent, you create a flexible environment that supports your teen, and provides her with the opportunity to grow into a self-reliant young adult. As a teenager, she will think at times that she has all the answers, and not need you. However, she will be happy to have you as a "safety net" when she realizes she does not have all the answers. This can include how well she is doing in school.
Obviously grades are important but sometimes the quest for good grades can become an obsession, or not taken seriously enough. As parents, we can fall into the common trap of measuring our child's success solely on grades alone.
Rising to their full potential
What can help is to set the expectation that it is more important to understand what they are learning, as well as rising to their full potential, as opposed to just getting good grades. Grades are not necessarily a true indicator of knowledge acquired. Stress that what they retain and apply, is more important than just obtaining a good grade. Teens need to have balance.
Building their confidence level
It is also important to keep your teenager's confidence level high. That is, raise or lower the performance bar as necessary, depending upon her abilities and things that may be impacting her life at the time. For example, your daughter may want to achieve a certain grade point average, but is struggling with her Chemistry class. No matter how hard she studies, her grades will vary from a C+ to a B. You may need to coach her that if she is working to her potential in Chemistry, then that is really good. That trying to study harder under those conditions will only cause her stress that may impact her other classes, and/or her quality of life. The best thing to do may be to strategize what she can do in her other courses to accomplish her goal. Have her discuss her concerns and alternatives with her teacher and/or Guidance Counselor. Once she has the information, talk it through with her and allow her to make her own decision about the best way for her to proceed. This approach will allow her to be proactive instead of reactive. Also, by discussing issues with the appropriate people, she will feel more in control and will discover her alternatives and how to better solve her problems as they arise.
However if there are no alternatives, then encourage your teen to accept that she is doing her best because she is working to her potential. Reinforce that it is more important that she understand and apply what she has learned, than to try fruitlessly to improve a grade.
The best way to coach your teenager with her schoolwork is to understand:
* What are her strengths and areas for improvement
* That her progress needs to be monitored; and she needs to be involved in making decisions about how she can improve her performance, and achieve her goals.
* It is important to learn to discuss a potential problem, and determine solutions as opposed to getting stressed out after the fact.
* That your teenager needs to understand, and accept that working to her potential; and understanding what she learns is more important than just trying to get a better grade.
It is vital that your teenager realizes that you don't judge her by grades alone, and that you value her motivation to improve. If she feels that she can discuss how she is doing and that you will support her if she is making a sound decision for the right reasons; then you are well on your way to becoming best friends with a solid relationship.
The following excerpt is from the book, "Realizing the Power of Love," How a father and teenage daughter became best friends.and how you can too, by V. Michael Santoro and Jennifer S. Santoro.
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