How do I manage my high expectations?

October 22, 2021

This October, we kicked off a new series of interactive Zoom workshops on the subject of exam results! Specifically, we want to help parents feel more prepared to receive their children’s exam results come the end of the year.

We’re blown away by how candidly and enthusiastically parents have been participating in our Q&A sessions – even staying for 20 extra minutes to tune in to a “bonus” Q&A. You have burning questions that need practical solutions! We hear you! 

In a series of upcoming blog posts, we’re going to distill the insights from our “How to talk to your child about their exam results” Q&A sessions just for you. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook to receive bite-sized nuggets of wisdom too! 

Tip 1: Acknowledge & express your own emotions first

Sometimes, if we don’t allow ourselves to address and express our feelings first, they manifest in our reactions to our children. In other words, you may find yourself reacting instinctively instead of responding thoughtfully. It’s not because you’re a bad parent! You’re only human, and your emotions are valid and deserve attention too.

First, take a moment to acknowledge your own feelings. What emotions are beneath your reactions? Perhaps you’re feeling frustrated, helpless, or guilty… Those feelings are valid! It’s normal and healthy to have hopes or plans for the future, as these help direct your steps and keep you on track. 

After having identified these thoughts and feelings, you may spend some time with your friends or other family members to vent, destress, or seek reassurance. Some people like to exercise or go outdoors, while others prefer to connect over a meal or a drink. What simple activities help you regulate your feelings? Your self-care as a parent is important too.

Tip 2: Talk to your child using I-statements

Now, you are more ready to begin a conversation with your child! In doing so, try to express your thoughts and feelings using “I-statements” instead of “You-statements”. I-statements describe your personal perspective, inviting the other person to see your invisible feelings better. You-statements tend to accuse, judge, or criticise the person you’re speaking to. Here’s an example:

In doing so, you are not only letting your child understand how you feel using non-hurtful language, but you are also role-modelling for them what it sounds like to express your emotions honestly and lovingly.

Tip 3: Praise their efforts before you problem-solve

When your child’s results come back lower than you had expected, there might be a tendency to diagnose and fix what went wrong. That makes perfect sense: you want your child to learn from their mistakes and continually improve their skills! 

However, in reality, your child is way more likely to join you in writing a plan to move forward if they feel that you understand and appreciate them for who they are. In other words, if you zoom ahead too quickly to problem-solving, you may forget to recognise your child’s hard work so far and how they have improved this year.

Your words are very powerful! What is the first thing you want your child to hear, when they walk through the door with the results in hand? That very first response will shape how they feel about themselves, about their schoolwork, and even about you. 

Trouble-shooting and solution-building can wait 1 day! We strongly encourage you to search for qualities or efforts that your child has that you want to commend and celebrate first. This shows them that you are truly on their team, and they will be ready to cooperate with you moving forward.

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