Every child is different, of course, but many of us have had a child (or were the child) that did everything well. Whether it was God-given talent and ability or a lot of hard work, or both, these kids are accustomed to success. These kids make the teams, win the awards, and get the A’s. Lots of A’s. Unfortunately, these are often the kids who are most shaken when things don’t go their way - when they get that first B.
While we as parents may not want to celebrate the B with our child, we can definitely take the opportunity to help our child learn a few important lessons through their 'B'.
First off, our kids really need to understand that whether it’s a B, an F or something more devastating, they are going to be okay! Life goes on, the sun will still rise in the east, there is still a lot of opportunity for them, they can still go to college, and this is just a momentary disappointment! There will be other B’s, and much worse in life, and the earlier our kids learn how to deal with adversity, the better equipped they will be to handle it when it comes.
It can be really tough to help the kid for whom everything comes easily to develop a work ethic. Developing the ability to put their head down and struggle through difficult material is almost impossible when nothing’s been difficult for them so far. Their first B (or the lack of understanding of a topic or bit of material) may be their first opportunity to learn to discipline themselves to stay with and push through something difficult. Sometimes perseverance is so difficult for these kids that their initial inclination is to quit anything that’s difficult, so trying a new sport or learning the saxophone would be impossible without developing perseverance. Gaining that skill will pay off hugely in the long run.
The B can strengthen resolve and help kids to refocus their energies. This is especially true for the one for whom everything comes so easily. It may be their first opportunity to decide for themselves that the A’s are important and determine that they will choose to pursue them instead of just accepting them as they come. It also may be their first opportunity to decide that the A pleases them, and not just their parents.
This may be the first time that our kids understand that things aren't always so easy for everyone else. That sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we don’t get an A. Or make the team, and that their siblings or classmates may feel this disappointment on a regular basis. It just might soften their hearts towards others in a new way.
To learn to seek out help and ask the right questions to gain understanding is yet another skill that our kids will benefit from throughout their life. Learning that it’s okay to ask for help is also important, and sometimes kids see asking for help as a sign of weakness or failure. Instead, let’s help them learn that it’s actually a very smart use of resources!
Obviously, not every student fits the mold of the one described here, and some of us have kids that we have to push just to open their homework, and some of us have one of each! But please see this as a little bit of encouragement for helping our high achievers overcome that first hurdle. We know they can do it - hopefully they’ll learn that too!