Report Cards – ‘A’ Grades and Brussels Sprouts… you can’t force them!


Over the last few weeks I have been writing about Conscious Parenting and how we can become more conscious and aware in our parenting practice.

In a recent post, I spoke specifically about our own parenting behavior and how our inner landscape profoundly influences our outer way of being. Remember the iceberg slide?

Today I am going to discuss reports cards because believe it or not, they are on the horizon. As such, I wanted to take some time to reflect and hopefully give you some ideas for becoming a more conscious parent pertaining to this.

Earlier this year, just before the end of the summer term, I happened to have six Grade 7 students in my car and they had all just received their report cards:

“How many A’s did you get?” piped up one boy

“5 – Why?”

“I get $50 for every A I get” he replied!

“Really? I don’t get cash for A’s…. That means you get $250!!”

“How many A’s did you get?” asked another kid

“None” replied the child quietly.

“None, you mean you didn’t even get one A – wow”

That night at dinner my son asked me why we didn’t pay him cash for A’s. This sparked a great conversation about what drives and motivates us. We also talked about the fact that the kid who didn’t get any A’s might have actually worked the hardest, put the most effort into his work and improved the most, yet was made to feel bad because he didn’t get an A!

I’d like to invite you to reflect on these questions:

  • How are report cards viewed in your family?
  • How does the conversation typically go with your child after you have read the report card?
  • Is it a relaxed or stressful conversation?
  • Are you triggered by something you see on the report card?
  • Are you triggered by something you don’t see?
  • Are your children’s grades important to you? If so, why?
  • Do you fear your child not doing well? What do you think is behind this fear?
  • Are your kids results driven by your agenda or their own?
  • Do you reward your children for good grades?
  • What do you resist?
  • What is it that you find hard to let go of?

Going below the surface and understanding what it’s really about for YOU will ultimately help you shape your behavior and allow you to become the parent your child needs you to be.

I believe that it comes down to what we, as parents, choose to focus on.

As Dr Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent states, when we shift our focus from the grade to the process,

“… we embed in them a thirst for learning that surpasses the fleeting pleasure they derive from gaining our approval through grades.”

Many of the parents I work with have never considered viewing the impact of their behavior and focus through this lens.

What do you want?

I want my children to want the Grade they desire and believe themselves capable of. I don’t want them to feel that they have to get a specific Grade on account of me, nor be fearful of what might happen if they don’t get that Grade. And, I don’t want them to only get a specific Grade in the hope of a reward.

A child who has been threatened or bribed to perform to someone else’s standards is simply being taught to be externally motivated rather than internally driven. That said there are some situations where external motivation is appropriate.

Personally, I don’t believe that I can make my kids get A’s as much as I can make them eat Brussels Sprouts!

I can, however, have reasonable expectations of my children. I can also encourage them, praise their effort and any improvement, focus on the process and help them develop good work habits and organizational skills. This is what will contribute towards them becoming capable of any outcome they desire. I strongly believe that shaping our children’s learning habits comes from shifting our own focus from the grades, trophy’s, accolades and end results to the journey and the process.

Parenting consciously allows us to connect more deeply with our children so that we can love them for who they are, honour their unique spirit and way of being so that they can love themselves and be proud of who they are and any result they get.

What little thing could you do this week to shift your focus in advance of the report card coming home?

Next week, I’ll be looking at ways in which you can use positive and encouraging language with your child regarding reports cards.

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