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Rule #8:
Make Certain That
You Accept Less Than
Your Child's Best Academic Effort

The studies are crystal clear: parental expectation is the most important indicator of a student’s academic success. Basically, what we believe our children will do, they do.

If we believe that our children will be good students, they usually will be good students. They will rise to our level of expectation, so we had better set some high standards!

Having high standards and expectations does not mean believing that a child is some sort of “whiz” and everything will come super easily. We are talking about effort. You expect your children- and great teachers expect their students- to try hard. The results we desire follow the effort we expend. Good grades are the product of your belief and your child’s desire, hard work and studying.

I tell my children and my students, “If you put your name on it, you had better be proud of it.” It doesn’t matter what it is- a four- sentence paragraph, a report, homework, an art project- everything you do deserves time and effort.

We hear a lot about self-esteem and making sure that our children feel good about themselves. Of course, we never want to belittle or demoralize our children or set impossibly high standards for them. However, building self-esteem does not mean insulting them with dishonest praise or applauding mediocrity. Be honest with your kids!

If your child’s effort has been less than lackluster and resulted in shoddy work, resist the temptation to lie (or fix it). Instead, ask, “Are you happy with this? I have seen what you can do when you take your time and work hard. Maybe you should put some more time into this.” You are not saying, “This is horrible. You are horrible.” You are saying that you know he can do better! When you do give your child a compliment, they will know that it is real and deserved.

If they choose not to put forth more effort, let them suffer the consequences. Oh, and there will be consequences. The rest of the world won’t be lying to your kids to protect their feelings or raise their self-esteem. You can call the principal until you are blue in the face- I will not put an A on a C paper. High school, college, corporate America- your child had better produce or fail. Excellent work takes time and requires thought and effort- and our kids need to learn that when they are young. (I know some adult that could probably use a refresher course on that one, but that’s a whole ‘nother talk show.)

Teach your children to follow the directions. I have had parents irate that I deducted points on a report even though it was missing large chunks of information or was illegible or a week late- or all three! What happens to sloppy, late and incomplete college applications and job resumes? They are rejected, dismissed and thrown away- or, in the digital age- deleted. Please don’t tell yourself that your kids will do things the right way when they are in college! The right way is a habit that starts now.

One of the absolute worse things you can do as a parent is to ask the teacher to make exceptions for your child. Think long and hard before you do it. Are you saying that you don’t think she is competent? She can’t follow directions? She can’t complete assignments in a timely manner? Of course you don’t believe this! So, what’s going on?

Madison’s tears are your kryptonite. You just can’t stand to see her suffer. You know she is capable, you just don’t want her to have to work so hard! You ask for special treatment, and your daughter hears you say, “My daughter can’t do what everybody else can do.” Is that what you want her to think? And, are you telling her that tears always work? They don’t.

Of course, there are emergencies. Once in a blue moon, you might call the teacher and ask for an extension on a project or assignment, but make sure the moon really is blue. “I didn’t get to it,” “I was tired,” and “I didn’t feel like it,” are not emergencies.

If your child can’t read- now, that is an emergency.

The only place success comes before work
is in the dictionary.

Want to Read More?

Return to advice for parents.

Go on to Rule #9.