Psychologist & Author Shefali Tsabary, PhD, shares advice for parents on how to turn your child’s bad grade into a chance to teach them to be resilient.
Nothing hurts us parents more than to witness our child in pain or suffering through a failure. We immediately get anxious because we want to be perfect; we want them to be perfect happy, we want them to be happy even though we barely know what that means. We want them to not be in emotional pain, and we will do anything it takes. When my child comes to me and says, mommy I got a C grade, or Mommy my teacher said that I was very lazy and unmotivated and she’s crying, my instinct as a parent is first to feel anxiety, my next instinct is to control that anxiety and I will do everything to control it, I will either tell her, Oh don’t be stupid, don’t be silly you’re magnificent, you’re fabulous, that doesn’t help my child; or I may say, really? you got a C grade, and I will over react, I’ll be overwhelmed, I’ll say let’s get tutors for you, let’s get you up because you’re such an intelligent child, you’re my child, that doesn’t help the child. What will help the child is our ability to tolerate their pain and be a stewart in that moment of conflict, in that moment of upheaval and show them that we are resolute. This is life, this is suffering and its okay to be in this pain, its okay, and you’re not going to break. You’re stronger and more resilient than you think, and this is the message we need to impart to them but if we ourselves don’t believe in our own resiliency, we’re going to fall apart, the kid is going to pick up on it, so instead of reacting, what I would do is talk to my child about sitting and feeling those feelings. How does it feel to depend on your teachers’ C grade or on your teacher telling you you’re lazy, is that correct? Are you? I would ask my child to investigate, go deeper in their own being and ask themselves, is it true that this label, this other person has impose on me is a definition of myself, and let the child come to their own awareness, don’t take it away from them, don’t put a band aid and don’t seek to run away on a train from that emotional pain.