Parenting: Motivating The Underachiever
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Parenting: Motivating The Underachiever

So how would you motivate your passive, bright child? Don't impose your goals on your son. Remain interested in his schooling, but don't get too involved. School is his job - not yours.
                                bored student

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"Our problem is with our 14-year-old son who has no interest at all in his studies. We have used threats, rewards, and punishments without success. He is not dumb. As a matter of fact, he is the brightest of our three sons. He goes to an expensive school, but he is constantly failing in his major subjects. Why is he behaving this way?"

Try to examine your relationship with your children. A bright child who loses interest in his studies must be undergoing some kind of turmoil - with himself, with his parents or with his schoolmates.

All parents normally want the best for their children. Unfortunately, some of them undermine their children's interest in schooling by doing the following: placing too many demands on the child; making the wrong kinds of demands.

Overly demanding parents: These parents expect the child to get marks not lower than 100 percent. Ninety-five percent is not good enough. Usually, these parents excelled in school themselves and expect their child to do as well.

In some cases, parents who did not enjoy good educational opportunities expect to realize all their frustrated dreams in their youngsters.

Comparing siblings with each other also destroys the enthusiasm of some children.

Parents who are not happy with their young adolescents' school performance could make matters worse by imposing their fixed goals on the child. For instance, some fathers demand that their sons follow their profession regardless of their children's inclination and interest. This family is doomed to a dismal destiny.

Overprotection: Parents can also nip motivation by being overprotective. As an example, when a youngster asks questions, giving him the answer all the time curtails initiative to search for answers himself. Proper guidance means giving suggestions as to how the youngster can find the correct answers.

Ask him: "How do you think?" or "Where would you go to find the answer to your question?" Definitely not to another person. Provide reference books in your household where the children can secure the information they need.

Other dependency-producing measures are: checking each piece of homework before turning it in to the teacher; taking charge each time the child has an argument with a friend, a playmate or a sibling - leave them to settle the matter themselves; dictating what they should wear, eat, read, play with, and so on.

However well-intentioned, this "help" drives home the message that the child is incapable of making decisions for himself. As a result, these youngsters avoid challenges because of fear of failure. They have been deprived of opportunities to test themselves in different situations. They lack self-confidence.

Overprotection is especially harmful during adolescence. This is the period when the young seek independence. Adolescents don't want or need "help" from parents who are all-knowing and eager to intercede.

So how would you motivate your passive, bright child? Don't impose your goals on your son. Remain interested in his schooling, but don't get too involved. School is his job - not yours.

Evaluate your own attitudes about education. Provide clear-cut objectives, such as "go ahead and choose the subjects you like. You are the best judge of what you can do." Or tell him: "I have full confidence in your abilities. I trust you completely."

Lastly, stress the fact that you love him for himself, not for the gold medals he can win.

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Comments (4)

My oldest son had the same issues, is smart, boarding on brilliance. He kept telling me that the class was boring and taght him much of nothing, because he knew all the answers. This was told to me by several of his class mates, I spen several days in some of classes and they were all right. I find mysself struggling to stay awake, no intertaction with the teacher, no excitement and utterly boring. He refused to call on the students, and would not engage in any form of conversation.These were special classes for AG (Acceptionally gifted). I moved my son to anoather school, he is doing fantastic and after 3 years at this school he is being pursued by Harvard and Princeton...go figure. Needless to say I like all of your article.

Great information and suggestions...many parents have at least one of these...and we are no different...not so much underachiever as an 80%er...these ideas will be a benefit. Thanks, promoted!

Very good advice! Thanks for sharing.

good tips

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