There is a meltdown. If you are the one having the meltdown, go grab yourself a cup of coffee and come back. No, really. In fact, I think I will make a cup myself right now. Be right back…
I am having the instant pumpkin spice latte from Maxwell House. Starbucks it isn’t, but it does in a pinch. Anyway, so you let your child fail. They knew it. You didn’t teach them right, (so they say) or the book didn’t teach them right. Even more distressing, your child thinks he is stupid. Of course we know that your child is not stupid, and we need to nip that one in the bud right away. Here is how the conversation might go at my house. M stands for me. T stands for the teen.
T: I knew! I am stupid! This is stupid. Everything is stupid.
M: You are not stupid. I know that for a fact.
T: Yes, I am. You saw my test score. I am so stupid.
M: You have every Pokémon character ever created memorized along with all their stats, colors, evolutions, and who knows what else I have never heard about. You can’t be stupid. It is impossible. (You can change this up for Star Wars, Taylor Swift lyrics, minecraft commands, you name it.)
T: Yeah, but that isn’t the same. Those are easy! Everyone can do that.
M: Not me. I can’t do that. I have no interest in doing that. Now, if It was important to my success, I would and I could. Do you know how I would do that?
M: I would make note cards. I would set up charts. I would make sure that I went over my Pokémon cards every day. I wouldn’t just look at the cards and think that I know them. I would quiz myself. Which is basically what you do when you play them all the time with your friends. I don’t play them all the time, so I have to make a different system of learning for myself. This is what you have to do for things that aren’t as interesting to you. The funny thing is that once you master the information it will become more interesting.
T: I hate Algebra. It is stupid. I will never need it in my life.
M: I am sorry that you feel that way. Regardless, this is what you have to do.
Study skills are important. This is where it is time for you to show your teen some different ways to study. Note cards are a great tool. They can make their own flashcards. Whether or not they use them is up to them. You can give them extra practice problems for their math. (Do not REQUIRE that they do them. Leave it up to them.) You can teach them how to outline and find the main points of their text. Lots of ideas out there for studying.
Here is how the conversation can go the next time your child fails his test.
T: I hate school!
M: Well, did you study for this test?
T: Yes! I did. And look! I still failed!
M: How did you study? Show me what you did.
T: I looked at the book.
M: I am glad that you opened the book, but did you review your flashcards?
T: I don’t know where they are.
M: Huh. Did you do any practice problems?
T: You didn’t tell me to do that.
M: Well, I honestly thought we were passed having to hold hands. Do you still need me to hold your hand while you do your homework? Because I can do that. I can even hold your hand when we cross the street! I would like that. (big smile)
T: NO! No! Moommm! No way!
M: Ok. You need to start doing this on your own. I have given you the tools. I shouldn’t have to put them in your hands and hold your hand while you use them.
T: Fine. I still hate school.
M: I am going to go check Facebook. Do your math.
I know it is exhausting. We are tired. We do not want to fight anymore. The trick is that we shouldn’t have to fight. They only fight because they know it wears us down. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work. Stand firm, moms! You can do this!