Just today I was speaking to a parent. She was very worried for her 12 year old son, who will be sitting for a major exam this year. Her son desperately needed help because he was getting single digits for each of his subjects.
“What do you think the problem was?” I asked.
“He doesn’t like to study and he just plays video games all day.” she replied.
Hi, my name is Teacher Kean from Teaching Worthy and I’m a licensed headmaster with the Ministry of Education and a certified HRDF trainer. My job is to help parents become better parents.
Unfortunately, the story I just described is one I hear very frequently. Today, I’m going to explore 4 reasons why some children may be failing in their exams. In the next video, I’m going to explore some ways HOW we could help them.
It took me a long time to realise that people rarely tell you the truth as to why they’ve given up on something or on themselves. Most of the time, they’d rather tell you a reason which is convenient for them to explain. Why people do this varies from person to person. Sometimes, people would say anything to get you off their back. Other times, they put the blame on an external party so they don’t have to be accountable.
Many times, children give excuses because they have tried studying in the past and still met with failure. To do so again would risk further failure and confirmation that they are stupid. They therefore invent all types of reasons as to why it is not even worth their time to try. If you don’t try, you can’t fail, right?
Think of some of the commonly quoted reasons by students as to why they’re not trying their best.
“The subject teacher is boring.”
“I don’t like this subject.”
“I just don’t like studying.”
These are not real reasons. These are things which EVERY student goes through at one point or another. And yet, some students bite the bullet and do what is necessary in order to excel in their work and in their exams. As parents, we have to understand the real reasons why some children have given up.
We live in a world of instant gratification. Essentially, we can get anything we want, any time we want, at the click of a button. This has caused some children to require visual and measurable results before they are willing to embark on a new project. This is especially true when it comes to studies. Some children may be unmotivated to put in the hours especially if they do not see how it would be relevant to their long term ambitions.
Now, think about it this way. Say we do a push up, and after that push up we go and look at ourselves in the mirror, would we see any difference in our body? Not necessarily. Now, even if we were to do 50 push ups daily for a week, would we see any difference in our body after a week? Not necessarily. And yet, we persevere and continue to do push ups for months or even years. Why? It is because we believe that eventually, we will achieve results. We would have given up a long time ago if we did not have that belief.
Some children nowadays no longer understand the concept of delayed gratification – the concept of sacrificing your current enjoyment for the promise of a benefit in the future. In other words, some children do not understand how hard work now would benefit them in the future.
It’s not common knowledge, but the ability to regulate our emotions is directly linked to our success and efficiency. Think about it this way. Giving in to laziness, procrastination and fear of failure are just other ways of saying:
“I do not FEEL like studying today.”
“I do not FEEL like I want to do it today. I FEEL like playing video games today”
“I am AFRAID that if I try, I’ll still fail and that would confirm some negative thoughts I’ve had about myself.”
As parents, we have a very vital role in demonstrating to our children that we ourselves are able to regulate our own emotions and to do the work which is necessary today.
Now, sometimes, parents, teachers and other guardians may let their own emotional needs bleed into their language. This is why it may be very harmful to say “I’m very disappointed in you” to a child. We are signalling to them that they have to excel in their studies in order to please us and that is just not convincing enough for some children.
Have you ever said these to your children?
“I know you don’t like math, but you still have to do your homework.”
“I know you’ve had a long day at school. You can skip tuition classes today.”
“I know that this is hard, but you still have to try.”
Yes, I understand. Sometimes we are tempted to say these to show empathy to our children and to get their “buy-in” so that they will do their work. However, this will almost certainly backfire because our children will start doing the work already convinced that the subject or the work will be boring or hard. Our children are less accountable to complete the work properly because they think “my parents also agree it’s hard, therefore, they’ll understand if I fail.”
Now that we have explored some reasons WHY some children are failing, the next step is to see HOW we can help them. I will explore some options in the next video. Now, if you feel like your situation is unique or if you require specific advice, please do not hesitate to contact us at www.teachingworthy.com. Thank you, and please remember to share these lessons which are worth sharing.