By John Cowan
everything. As you encourage and praise what they are good at, rather than rubbing their nose in their failures, it might just lift their attitude about school and help them flourish academically as well.
X-ray your kids. Whatever problems your kids encounter at school, look through the symptoms with your parental x-ray vision to see what the real issues might be. Stroppy behaviour? Absenteeism? Persistent under-achievement? (This could be a long list!) All real issues, but they might have some underlying cause like bullying, friction with a teacher or depression.
And don’t forget: the corridors and classrooms of high schools are awash with pubescent hormones. Adolescence runs happily and smoothly for some, but for many it is fraught with stresses and frustration from peer pressure, romantic pressure, and a desperate desire to fit in. Some teenagers get a bit cranky; just as well as they have remarkable parents who can get over that and love them anyway.
Stay in touch and stay on side. Successful school life depends hugely on self-discipline. Young adolescents still need parents to provide structure around sleep, study time and appropriate behaviour – your external discipline hopefully provides the scaffold for them to build their own self-discipline on.
Doing schoolwork is fine, but for a lifetime of growth and progress, nothing compares with curiosity and a love of learning. Chat about school, ask questions and be interested in what they are learning. Is it wrong for a parent to fake fascination with French verbs and algebra? If that’s the worst crime we are guilty of, we are pretty amazing parents!
John Cowan is an accomplished author, media producer and seminar presenter. He's been a hospital scientist in neurophysiology, a youth worker, a social worker, minister, and parenting expert, but his primary passion is communication: mainly as a speaker to live audiences, and as a writer. His wit and humour have been enjoyed by tens of thousands of people in live audiences around the country. John hosts NewstalkZB’s weekly show, ‘Real Life’.