How To Handle Disappointing Grades

Diane Sasser, Claesgens, Mark A.  |  7/21/2007 12:46:55 AM

2007 Back-to-School News (Distributed 07/13/07)

It happens to almost every parent – your child brings home a report card that is less than satisfactory in your eyes. How do you handle it? Do you blow a gasket? Or ignore it, hoping it will go away?

LSU AgCenter family and child development expert Dr. Diane Sasser advises to think the situation through before you react in any manner. Resolve to handle it in as positive a manner as possible.

First, ask yourself if you have a reason to be disappointed. Sometimes grades are not the best way to judge performance. In some cases, a "C" or worse may be cause for celebration if the subject was challenging, and they really did give it their best. If you feel justified in your disappointment, consider the best way to respond. Don’t just ignore the problem, because that sends the message that you don’t care. Some problems don’t just go away by being ignored.

Sasser offers several suggestions about handling your child’s grades.

– Sit down and talk about them.

– Don’t shame or demean. It only reinforces poor self-esteem and underachieving behavior.

– Begin with the positive. Most report cards have a mixture of good and bad news.

– Recognize the good, especially if your child showed improvement or met a challenge.

– Explain why you’re unhappy. Let your child know what you expect. It’s like having a job, in that your child’s job is to do well in school and to learn. If the requirements of your job are unclear, wouldn’t it be difficult for you to know what is expected of you?

– Determine the real cause of the problem. Is it study habits or something more?

– Come up with a plan with your child. Make this as specific as possible. Include yourself in the plan. Your part of the plan may be to contact the teacher to ask for help.

– Implement and monitor the plan.

By following these guidelines the next report will almost certainly be an improvement, Sasser said, adding, "And you won’t have to guess how you should handle it!"

For information on related family and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link at the LSU AgCenter Web site at For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Source: Diane D. Sasser (225) 578-4448, or
Editor: Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939, or

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