By Dickson Tumuramye
Most children report back to school this week and next week. Take time to talk to them because there is too much pressure this term.
It doesn’t matter how your child performed last term or at primary seven or senior four; this is not only a promotional term, but it also determines one’s progress to another level in their academic career. This level could be senior one, senior five, or any post-secondary institution of higher learning.
Your child or children need uplifting words to carry them through this term. Some may have fallen sick last term; others could have missed some classes or exams due to other reasons; others are average performers, and they are scared of this third term.
They are not sure whether they are going to improve their performance or whether they may be demoted or advised to try somewhere else. A child with all that running through his or her mind may face psychological challenges, which could affect their performance.
On this note, your words of encouragement may have a positive influence on your child’s view of self-image and the future.
Some parents could still feel bad that a child didn’t perform well last term due to negligence. Don’t add negative words as you remind him or her to read hard. It’s like adding salt to an injury. Even speaking to this child calmly can still drive that point home.
After all, some children already feel guilty and convicted. Other than standing with them in their weaknesses, you are showing them that they are already ‘useless’ and ‘stupid’ enough, so don’t expect much this term.
I also know that there are children who are regular problem cases, and you are on the verge of giving up. But before you completely throw in the towel, remember that this is your own blood; you are building your child’s future, and no better person can help your child than yourself if you remain strong. I know other people can come on board and help this child, and change can happen, but that is only if you don’t give up on him or her.
Before taking them to school, sit them down in the remaining days and speak to each child. Ask family members to give a word of encouragement. Have a special time for your candidate children and speak words that will stir their self-confidence and esteem. Remind them how this final term has determined a lot in their career.
If a child is reading under too much pressure due to competition and anxiety, this child needs to be guided to calm down. Talk about the challenges of peer pressure during classes and revision. As a parent, listen carefully to the child’s comments or needs or expectations, and if they feel they are facing pressure from the family or school, advise them accordingly. But you should also reduce your pressure on them.
I have talked to children in my counselling sessions who say that they hate themselves because they have too much pressure from their parents. Expectations are too high, and even when they try their best, every time a child expects a positive response, they get a bad reaction. Such children feel that however much they do, a parent may not appreciate it. They too have psychological challenges they are battling with, and their parents are not ready to listen to them.
As a parent, you may have made it in life, but this child and the season you are in now are different. Handle each case differently without generalizing. Keep calm as well and give breathing space to your child rather than losing him or her. After all, even those who don’t get first grades or 20 points at A-level have successfully completed university and are doing better at their workplaces than some ‘A’ students.
Life is not about first grades and first classes. A meaningful life is about how a child integrates what he or she learns into proper perspective and can make very informed decisions that keep him or her focused.
Prepare a good meal for your children as they go back to school, especially those in the boarding section. Take time to fellowship together and have time to pray for your children. You are the first prophet in your child’s life. You know what you desire to see in this child, what you discuss, and what you are prepared to see come to pass. The Bible says, “You shall decree a thing, and it shall be established” (Job 22:28). Give them the word of God to stand on.
You may not meet all the school requirements this term. Talk to your child(ren) about what you are experiencing and give them assurance that all will be well. This can eliminate unnecessary anxiety for your child. Do what you can to reach out to your child’s school and explain your predicament. You will all make it through Christ, who strengthens you, because with Him all things are possible (Philippians 4:13, Matthew 19:26).
If you feel you can’t talk to your child because it won’t change anything, use a family friend and invite your pastor to speak to them. We are also there as counsellors to help stand with you on this journey. Seek their advice.