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Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014
Letter of the Day

A school-year guide for all parents

Published:

It is that time of year again. Schools will reopen soon, and a new semester draws closer for college students. Nonetheless, I would like to focus on a different demographic who, although not attending classes in the upcoming semester, feel large amounts of pressure and anxiety because of academics.

Yes, I am referring to parents.

Although not directly involved in the educational system, parents are likely to be as worried about the upcoming semester as their children are. Many parents may easily become overzealous in reprimanding children regarding academic performance.

Parents' passion for their children's success, although well intentioned, can be misinterpreted. The problem could be further compounded by the fact that some parents may not be financially vested in their children's education. Therefore, it may be difficult for the parent to contribute to the child's academic decisions.

How can parents get their children to listen to well-meant advice? I encourage these parents to consider the following suggestions for the upcoming semester.

1. Do not criticize, complain or condemn. After reading the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie, I realized a universal truth. Criticizing makes most humans defensive. If a parent scolds a child, this merely makes the child strive to justify his/her action and alleviate blame. Thus, criticizing, condemning or complaining is a futile approach.

2. Instead, try to encourage the child. Last semester's failures provide a great opportunity for major improvements this upcoming semester. Make mention of people who have failed but are now successful. President Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein - these men all failed miserably in the past, possibly far worse than your child.

3. Get to the bottom of the child's failure. What exactly went wrong? Many students spend hours studying, yet do not do well on exams. This may be because the student procrastinates, did not understand the material or was distracted by their smartphones while studying, etc. In order to decipher the problem, the child must be honest with the parent. Honesty is more likely in a judgment-free environment.

4. Reward the child for good grades. Figure out when the child has tests and ask to see the grades. Reward him or her when progress is made. Encouragement sweetens labor.

These suggestions, although not easy to implement, will propel the child in the right direction.

I am a 21-year-old student at the University of South Florida. I got into nursing school, a very competitive program here. After four months I dropped out. Yes, I failed. I felt disappointed in myself, and my confidence was deeply shaken. My mother constantly encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Today I am back in nursing school at USF, and I will be starting my second semester in the fall. Encouragement created an eager want in me to make my mother proud. I wanted to show the world that the things my mother was saying about me were true. I did not rest until I made her opinion of me a reality. I encourage all parents to do the same.

Roneil Williamson

Tampa

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