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The parenting thread

post #1 of 158
Thread Starter 
A thread for parenting questions (inspired by Globetrotter's question about the birthday party.)

I would love some advice here:
So, my 8-year-old boy comes home with his report card. His school sets grades as "Not good", "Good" or "Great" and there are around 20 categories being graded. He got 5 "Greats" and the rest as "Good".

He comes home and the first thing he says is "look at my report card, I got 5 "Greats" so you should buy me a Ninendo Wii!" I exploded at him and told him that being mediocre is no reason for a present and he was going to have to try a lot harder then that. Then he fought back, in tears, saying that it is a good result because he is stupid and that is why he can't do any better. He admitted that some of his friends got better but some did worse and he thought it was as good as he can do because he had the same result last term. The idea of the Wii came because his friend was told he would get a Wii if he got 10 "greats" and he did.

In truth he is a very bright kid but has attention problems and most of his negatives are attributable to him just not concentrating or making an effort.

How to proceed to inspire him to do better? I don't really want to attach rewards or punishments to his report card but it seems that is what other parents do.

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 158
My daughter is only 17 months, so I dont have these problems yet, but how about get him the Wii, under the condition that he will lose Wii privileges if he does not improve to 10 greats on the next report card?
post #3 of 158
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpooPoker View Post
My daughter is only 17 months, so I dont have these problems yet, but how about get him the Wii, under the condition that he will lose Wii privileges if he does not improve to 10 greats on the next report card?

Thanks. 17 months sounds like a cute age for girls. My little girls are just about 2 months now.

Actually, the problem with the Wii is that he simply doesn't have any time to play it. He has privileges for other games and TV already.

For me the question is more about how to inspire him to do better. I feel a little guilty for getting angry at him as the report card certainly wasn't bad at all. But, at the same time, I just didn't feel that praising him was appropriate either.
post #4 of 158
I dont miss 2 months. There was a LOT of crying for us at 2 months. Does he operate well under a goal driven program? You get xxx if you do xxx? Does he understand logic and cause and effect? If he "gets it" then you can do a reward, or incentive program that he can strive for. Some kids (like I was) did not operate well under that setup and are very much about an immediate reward.
post #5 of 158
OP: Why don't you talk to your kid? Why does he think he's "stupid" and that what he did was the best he can do? Has he routinely come to you or your wife for help during the school year, or are you two unavailable? Him thinking he's stupid and crying to get a Wii is only going to further the lack of effort he puts in.
post #6 of 158
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by deadly7 View Post
OP: Why don't you talk to your kid? Why does he think he's "stupid" and that what he did was the best he can do? Has he routinely come to you or your wife for help during the school year, or are you two unavailable? Him thinking he's stupid and crying to get a Wii is only going to further the lack of effort he puts in.

Oh...I did talk to him...but there is only so much that you can get from talking to your child. I don't think he really believes he is stupid and is, if anything, over-confident. He is a smart kid. My wife and I are attentive to the point of spoiling him so I don't think that is the issue. The crying was more from the surprise that I was angry. I did talk to him and he said that the reason he cried was because he thought that getting 5 "Greats" was better than last term. He thought he only had 3 last time.

Think of it like the employee that comes to you, the manager, after completing a task to demand a raise. The task was completed properly and the results are satisfactory but you know that the effort made wasn't as much as it could have been and the results could have been a lot better.

How to motivate the employee to do a better job in the future? Carrot or stick...or some combination of both?
post #7 of 158
I'd offer him $20 for every "Great" on the next report card to do with whatever he pleases. He has to pay you $20 for every "Good" that used to be a "Great" (backsliding). You say he's got a game system already? Tell him no more games unless he buys them for himself. You can use this approach for anything around the house and chores as well. Kept your room clean? $10. Still dirty? You owe mommy $10 for having to pick it up.
post #8 of 158
I would think about talking to his teachers. He may think he is stupid, and you may think he is smart, but they're the ones who can give a reasonable assesment of his ability. Untill I was 16 I was in every remedial class in the school, but I finally "got" accademia and went on to get straight A's in every subject. With regard to not rewarding average performance, I wouldn't push that idea too hard. Its great in principal but it can end up being very demoralising when you think you've done well and your parent shits all over it. Maybe go back to the idea a little later, at say 12 or 14. At that point your opinion means less to kids, so the advice is taken rather than just the offence.
post #9 of 158
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhood View Post
I would think about talking to his teachers. He may think he is stupid, and you may think he is smart, but they're the ones who can give a reasonable assesment of his ability.

Untill I was 16 I was in every remedial class in the school, but I finally "got" accademia and went on to get straight A's in every subject.

With regard to not rewarding average performance, I wouldn't push that idea too hard. Its great in principal but it can end up being very demoralising when you think you've done well and your parent shits all over it.

Maybe go back to the idea a little later, at say 12 or 14. At that point your opinion means less to kids, so the advice is taken rather than just the offence.

We talk to his teachers often and their assessment is the same as mine.

But you do get to the heart of my question. How is it that you finally "got" it? Were there any external motivators? Anything that your parents did that moved you in that direction? Or anything that your parents did that led to you being in remedial classes to begin with?
post #10 of 158
good question, Alter.

here's how I handle when I want to improve my son's performance:

1. I explain to him what the basic idea is (your son might be just a little too young for this type of talk) but I basically say "look, if you want to have a good job, and be able to have the lifestyle that we have, you have to be able to compete with all of these other kids, and if you aren't the best at X (honestly, where I work to reinforce him isn't grades - grades in the US for 3rd grade are jokes, I work to reinforce other things) then you won't be able to have nice food or a nice place to live or take vacations.

2. I divide it into actions, not results (which is what I do with my reports, too) - so not so much "you need to get 8 'greats' " but "you need to spend an hour doing homework tonight"

3. I reward good results immediately - pretty much any good results get a small reward right then and there - it could be ice cream or a movie, or it could be a video game.

4. I punish by taking away screen time - no tv, no video games, no computer



good luck
post #11 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alter View Post
But, at the same time, I just didn't feel that praising him was appropriate either.
Here is my $0.02 from the other side of the table (being the formerly hyper kid....or maybe the hyper former kid ) The question of whether praise is due is not in the number of greats but in the progress he has shown and the effort it took to achieve them. So that's the question - did he show significant progress to get this far? If so you should reward him in some fashion while focusing on further growth. For me this goes hand in hand with the concern when a child thinks they are 'stupid' and should have the bar lowered for them. It's a very fine line that needs to be walked to make the child proud of their accomplishments, aware they can continue to improve, and motivated to do so. Speaking from my own experience, I would receive praise of various types for achievements that were not as great as my siblings had but at the same time I never felt like the end expectations were different. I would graduate from high school with high grades, go to college with a scholarship or two, be successful in life, etc. The journey to reach this was just at a different pace in the beginning. I wouldn't buy a Wii because that wasn't the arrangement but praise is fine if it's warranted. Kids respond well to positive reinforcement and for kids that develop at a slower pace those positive reactions can be few and far between. If he worked hard I would give a small reward and get him excited about maybe getting 7 or 8 greats on the next card and maybe picking a reward for getting 7 or 8 and a huge reward if he can get 10.
post #12 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alter View Post

In truth he is a very bright kid but has attention problems and most of his negatives are attributable to him just not concentrating or making an effort.

How to proceed to inspire him to do better? I don't really want to attach rewards or punishments to his report card but it seems that is what other parents do.

Any thoughts?

DON'T attach a punishment and reward system to grades. I know some do and it works but it is a VERY slippery slope. For one thing what if he works his ass off and gets 9 greats but needed 10? The point was to get him to work hard which he did, what if 10 was/is just beyond him? Do you buy it b/c he did what you really wanted him to, which was work hard and apply himself, or do you withhold and make him feel like shit for doing what you wanted, work hard, but to no reward?

I know everyone will chime in and say, "be tough almost good enough isn't, China will eat our soul and all the rest" but frankly I think the whole thing is more subtle than that. I prefer to just make the little fucker work hard b/c it's the right thing to do, and buy him shit b/c I like to make him happy.
post #13 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCal View Post
DON'T attach a punishment and reward system to grades. I know some do and it works but it is a VERY slippery slope. For one thing what if he works his ass off and gets 9 greats but needed 10? The point was to get him to work hard which he did, what if 10 was/is just beyond him? Do you buy it b/c he did what you really wanted him to, which was work hard and apply himself, or do you withhold and make him feel like shit for doing what you wanted, work hard, but to no reward?

I know everyone will chime in and say, "be tough almost good enough isn't, China will eat our soul and all the rest" but frankly I think the whole thing is more subtle than that. I prefer to just make the little fucker work hard b/c it's the right thing to do, and buy him shit b/c I like to make him happy.

This is getting slightly beside the point, but why can't learning be its own reward? When I was a kid growing up, my parents bought me mostly books, not toys and video games. They would take me to a bookstore or surprise me by bringing home books in subjects they thought might interest me, fiction and nonfiction alike. A childlike imagination is only good for so long; let him rot his brain out at a friend's house.
post #14 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by deadly7 View Post
This is getting slightly beside the point, but why can't learning be its own reward? When I was a kid growing up, my parents bought me mostly books, not toys and video games. They would take me to a bookstore or surprise me by bringing home books in subjects they thought might interest me, fiction and nonfiction alike. A childlike imagination is only good for so long; let him rot his brain out at a friend's house.

there is a difference between learning, doing well in school and curiosity. frankly, I don't think that my kid learns anything (specific) of importance in school, what he does learn is how to follow rules and instructions, apply himself to what the people in charge of him want from him, and conform. he learns a lot of other stuff at home.
post #15 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by globetrotter View Post
frankly, I don't think that my kid learns anything (specific) of importance in school

Then why is your kid still there?
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