We all want our young adults to do as well as they can at school. We hold the belief that good marks or a solid pass will give them options later. And despite our best intentions, the expectations we hold on behalf of our adolescents can make it harder for them to achieve. It sounds backward I know, surely having high expectations will set them up to achieve well?  Maybe. And, maybe not. 

First of all, they’re adolescents. And part of their biological programming is to push against what their parents are expecting. For some adolescents, an expectation of high grades may simply result in a deliberate flouting of those expectations to send a message that they know best. 

Other adolescents may find the high bar daunting and have no clue how they’re going to get there, all the while knowing that they’re disappointing you. Ouch. 

As topsy-turvy as this may sound, do your own work around your adolescent’s schooling.

They have their own reasons for achieving how they’re achieving. Adding your agenda to their thoughts may not be helping them. You may be making it harder for them.

Instead of nagging, threatening, ordering, or bribing them to good results, meet them where they’re at. Chat with them in a friendly way about how they think they’re going at school. Be interested and ask about the hard stuff and the bits they enjoy. Invest your together time talking about THEIR experience of school and learning. 

By meeting them where they are at, you will be able to work with them to guide them out of stuck – IF (and ONLY if) they need you to!  And if it’s appropriate ask them for their suggestions as to how you can be more supportive. What do they need from you in order to set themselves up for best success?

This is not a time to give them a list of things you think they “should” be doing. And it’s definitely not an opportunity for you to judge them by their results. That will only make things harder for them as your attitude and expectations get in the way of their learning. 

Your learning is to step aside and let them get on with their learning. 

If this has you thinking, perhaps it is worthy of continuing the discussion in a 1-1 coaching session.  Explore where you and your adolescent could work together to make exams and school something they are proud of.