The Report Card
Unlocking Hidden Achievements
When your child comes home with his next report card, sit down at the table together, graciously receive it from him without even really looking at it, set it face down on the table, and slowly push it with one finger to the side. Then look your child right in the eye and ask, “What, about this report card, are you most proud of?” The first time you do this, you may want to have someone with a camera standing by to capture the confused look on his face. His first response may be, “What?” Just repeat the question, “Tell me what it is that you are most proud of on your report card?” He may have to think for a minute. Be patient. He may know immediately what it is he’s most proud of. Once he tells you, your next question is, “Why?” Again, just give him time to feel why he is proud. This is not about the grades on the report lying on the table. This is about what your child considers to be his own personal achievement, but not necessarily reflected in any letter grade. He may feel most proud of the effort it took to go from a D to a C in a particular subject. Or, it could be his sense of pride at mastering a subject he loves.
You want your child to be motivated from within, and to feel successful. And, to build on that feeling.
Whatever your child shares, your job is to genuinely acknowledge his accomplishment, “Wow. I can see how good you feel about this.” To finish, just ask, “Is there anything else you would like to share? Is there anything you need help with?”
If there is nothing your child can find to be proud of, just empathize how that must feel. You might say something like, “I’m sorry that this is so hard for you.” Or, share with him a time that maybe you were going through the same thing. Ask, “How can I help you?” Then just listen. He may have to spew, cry, be angry, or any number of things. Help him look at how he can be in charge and take action. In assisting him in determining his next step say, “What is one thing that you could do — or we could do together — that would help you feel better?” Sticking with one thing at a time makes it easier to focus and be successful. The goal here would be for your child to experience feeling some success.
I found this method to be so rewarding — not just for my daughters — but for me, as well. It felt like I was truly there for them. Remember, have that camera ready. The picture will be worth saving.