Today kids are taught that they need to excel in school. By excelling, I mean that they need to get a certain grade in order to determine if they did "good" or "bad" on a test or an assignment. There is so much emphasis on achieving a certain grade in school. To determine if a student has done "well" or "not well" is all defined by a number or a letter at the completion of a school year, a school semester, a test or an assignment. In my years working in a school setting, in working with families and also observing people in my day to day personal life, I believe that children are taught that their self worth is defined by their grade and what they achieve in school. I have found that many teachers and parents put a lot of pressure on children to achieve a certain level, and when they don't, they are either scolded for it or said that they did not do well. If a student does not get an A or B or a 90% or 80% or whatever the grade is expected of them, many often feel unworthy because they couldn't meet the expectations that were set by others for them.
Many children these days are expected to reach a certain achievement in school and taught a message that the t grade that they obtain, defines who they are and how much they are worth. When we put pressure on our kids to achieve a certain grade level, we teach them that the outcome is what defines how hard they have worked and how much they are worth. Academic success in many school systems and in many family households, is based on achieving a certain grade. What many schools and families lack, is the knowledge and understanding that due to children's development, and their underdevelopment of their brain; children interpret their negative experiences as a reflection of their own self worth. If a parent has an expectation of a child to achieve a specific grade, that child learns that if they don't achieve that grade, they are deemed not good enough and not smart enough and that something is wrong with them. If they do achieve that grade, they define themselves as worthy because they were able to meet expectations.
Children are not taught that they are intrinsically worthy and enough just as they are. The constant expectations of achieving to get somewhere or to get something, teaches them that meeting expectations and achievements will get them the approval and acceptance of others. Each person wants to feel accepted by others, especially children. However, when we place a label of "good" or "bad"or"right," or "wrong"on a grade, we assist in decreasing a child's self esteem and self worth. Instead, we can relay a message to students and our children that they are worthy and enough no matter what the outcome is. We need to relay to our children that their efforts is what counts and that they are accepted and loved no matter what. We also need to praise them as they are studying for that test, or working on that assignment. Praise them for efforts, accomplishments (no matter what that looks like) and acknowledge struggles as well. As adults we need to most importantly look at ourselves. We need to ask what language am I using with this child and how are they interpreting it? What does it mean for me, if my child does not achieve the outcome that I want them to achieve? As adults we need to self reflect on how we are engaging with our children. School is not an easy thing to go through for them and academics can be daunting for many students. It all begins with us adults. We can help in nurturing the self-esteem of our kids and relaying a message that they are more than enough no matter what they achieve or do not achieve. They are perfection simply because they were born like that.