At bedtime yesterday, my 10 year old daughter, Dan, asked me if I could give her a reward in the form of Roblox credits if she gets good grades in her upcoming mid-year exams. “Sure!” I automatically agreed. I mean, we’re talking about a kid being PROACTIVE here, wanting to do well. What’s there not to say yes to? 😄
Naturally, I was pleasantly pleased with what seemed like a healthy dose of intrinsic motivation demonstrated on her part. Then I paused, because experience taught me that I should probably clarify what “good grades” meant in her context since there might be a good chance that it’s vastly different from mine. And that was exactly what I did.
ME: Dan, what do you mean by good grades? How much are we looking at achieving? 😊
DAN: Umm… 70%, mommy.
ME: 😒 I see… yeah, that’s cool. And you meant 70% for all 4 of your subjects in order to get your reward, am I right?
DAN: Oh, it’s per subject , mommy. So if I get 70% marks for 3 subjects only, I’ll still get the Roblox credits because it’s 1000 credits per subject.
At this juncture, the tiger mom instinct in me almost pounced at the idea of wanting to push it a little to 75% or even 80% because 70% doesn’t sound like “good grades” enough, does it? 🤔
Then like a moment of truth, it dawned on me that as much as 70% might not be my version of “good grades”, it probably is for a kid who’s usually at a 50% grade level for instance. And I knew almost immediately that there was NO REASON at all to counter-offer with anything higher at this point. I reminded myself that showing support as kids define their OWN VERSION of success (then nudge them further down the road 😁) is probably a better preposition than dictating what they should do or what grades they should get – that’s usually feeding our own standards or even society’s for that matter.
Who’s to say that 70% is considered good or not good grades? That’s relative – as with many things in life that I realised in my adulthood. The challenge for us parents is therefore to first KNOW our kids, then PAUSE and decide what’s the next best step to take instead of following what everyone else thinks is the way to go.