Monday, April 26, 2010

Parenting Dilemma: What Would You Do If Your Child's Grade Were Slipping?

From time to time, I receive questions from others about parenting dilemmas. Most of the time I answer these in an email, but then it dawned on me today that I should be sharing these with you. You might also be going through the same problem and may need some guidance. Or you may have already gone through this and can offer some parenting wisdom.

Today is report card day and my son (5th grade) will have 3 C's. I was thinking
of limiting his tv time to 30 mins per day during the week from now till I see
online his grades have come up. He likes to play games on the computer which is
in the kitchen. How should I do that? Should it be 30 mins. tv/ computer
together pretty much either or? I want him to know I mean business but not over
do it too. He already has soccer now two days a week for 1 1/2 hrs. He doesn't
get much homework at all from school. Let me know what you would do if you were
in my shoes.
First of all, I'd like to say that parenting is not a cookie cutter format. Whatever works for your child, may not work for others. Here are some things to consider:

Talk to your spouse before dishing out consequences. You both need to agree on how to handle the situation. Do not respond in anger. Long lectures don't seem to work either.

Find out the problem. Does your child need additional help, is the content difficult, or are they just being lazy? You may want to talk with the teacher. Many times teachers observe things in the classroom that you don't see at home. They may help to identify problems, the need for help, and they can probably make suggestions.

Consider having a study time in your schedule each day. Designate a time that works well for your family. At our house, my children know that when they come home from school they wash their hands, have a snack, work on homework, and then they have playtime. At first, your child may be resistant to a schedule, but keep at it.

Set logical consequences. Grounding a child until the end of the year is not a logical consequence. I would suggest cutting back on tv and computer time, time with friends, and if the situation gets very serious, then I would cut out sports completely.

Based upon this particular situation given above, I would recommend to limit the child's tv and computer time. Possibly cut it back to 30 minutes each day on soccer days and 45 minutes on other days. Continue you monitor your child's progress with online grades or through email correspondence with the teacher.

Offer an incentive. Tell him/her that you'll reevaluate the situation at midterm reports. Offer an incentive if grades are acceptable at that time. Perhaps the child can earn back some of the privileges that were taken.

Teach the value of doing your best in all things. Some scriptures that might help:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

Offer logical reasons for getting good grades. Sometimes children have a hard time seeing the need for doing their best for getting good grades. Ask your child about some positive experiences others in their school have had from their grades (school incentives, rewards, extra field trips, etc). Give a real life example that your child will understand.

Example: If you don't do your best when playing soccer then your coach may not take you seriously. If he doesn't take you seriously, you may have to sit on the bench a bit longer while the others are playing. It's important to always do your best. Does that make sense?

Encourage your child. Notice their attempts to do better, their commitment to studying, and improvement with grades. There is no need to over endulge them. It only takes simple words such as, "I have noticed how hard you're trying this week." or "You're doing a great job. I'm glad you're working so hard." Children respond well to a little positive reinforcement. Also, you might like these 50 encouraging things to say to your kids.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20

Do you have a parenting dilemma? Email it to