Saturday, December 24, 2005

Grade Expectations

PMR (lower secondary assessment) results were out this past Thursday. No. 1 didn't appear to be overly excited over this. After returning from youth camp with his dad, he went to school on Thursday afternoon to collect his result slip. Hubby rang me to tell me the news.

Me : He's got 1A? (I was only certain that he'd get an A for his English, at best 3As out of 8).
Hubby : 5.
Me : FIVE?
Hubby : Why you got no faith in your son?

I've got faith in him all right, that he'll get between one to three As. I didn't want to expect too much from him as I didn't want to be disappointed. Moreover, his performance in his term exams hadn't been exactly inspiring. I read in the papers about the girl who cried at getting 6As and 1B because she expected to get straight As. As for us, 5As is great news because no. 1 had done better than expected.

When we heard news of others faring better (a niece got straight As, another friend got 6As and yet another 7As out of 8), no. 1 asked if I was going to start comparing him with them. I told him that if I'd wanted to do so, I wouldn't have been happy with the 5As he obtained.

It's human nature to want to compare our children with others who've done better. This is a favourite refrain amongst parents :

"Why can't you be like so-and-so who
1. got straight As
2. is a debating champion
3. is a state basketball player
4. wrote a book in his teens
5. won the essay writing competition
6. blah-blah-blah-blah..."

Sometimes I do it too but hubby is always quick to remind me that the only comparison we should make of our kids is to compare themselves with themselves. The comparison shouldn't be external but internal. If you're capable of getting an A but you only got a C, then you've done a lousy job. On the other hand, if your level of competency is such that a C is the norm, then getting a B is reason to rejoice.

If we parents insist on comparing our kids with others, then we shouldn't just compare them with those who are better but those who are worse off too. Then, we won't be so demanding on our kids.

But then again, the word "demanding" can be construed differently by parents and children. That's another story altogether.


pu1pu3 said...

First of all Merry Christmas and congratulations to your son for getting the 5 As. To tell you honestly, I'm surprised to know that you're not one kiasu mum and am thankful that you son didn't score straight As. I was just reading the newspaper about how people send their children for tuitions even if their children are already doing well in school. It made me think about my 2 boys . Would I succumb to the need to send them for tuition? I had a personal experience with tuition centres in that I attended tuition for my SRP/PMR and got a lousy Aggregate 10 and totally regretted wasting all those times in tuition classes.I didn't make the same mistake for my SPM and obtained 8As and 2 Cs. Though people tell me that my time and now are different, during my time, parent were already kiasu. I suppose for my boys, I'll cross the bridge when I get there. Have a Happy New Year and I love your EPNim articles di The Bintang.

Kak Teh said...

Lydia, I am so so so guilty of this - what to do? I don't compare, but i jaust say - why didn't you...
anyway, have a wonderful christmas and a happy new year.

MA said...

Good post, Lydia.

I only want my kids to be happy in school and do their best in life. And like you said, to compare themselves with themselves.

They should be able to identify their potential and maximise it to the fullest.

All I told my kids was - they have their lives to live for as I have lived for mine. And that they are the ones who are deciding their own destiny.

Say NO to kiasuism ! :-)

Merry Christmas to you & family.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. Don't parents know how much it hurts when they over-compare? Not just with others but between siblings or relatives. It's like we try so so hard, and yet they are not satisfied. But I guess they mean well? Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Josh CWK

SLeeK@ER said...

hi there! nice to visit your blog...

dannie choOng said...

Blessed Christmas Lydia. Comparison is not all that bad if it is done on a positive approch. Without comparison, we won't know how better we can become...

KK said...

Most typical contemporary anxious parents are contaminated with ideological "tuition syndrome" and "chasing paper syndrome"! But having a good academic result doesn't guarantee a good future. My No.2 did well with plenty of As and No.3 didn't have any A just with so so result all the time. Today No.3 earns three times more than No.2. How come?

Lydia Teh said...

pu1pu3, thanks. I got some kia-suism alsolah. No. 1 went for tuition in Form 3 to prepare for PMR but forms 1 and 2, life was a bed of roses without any tuition. Same for no. 2, next year she'll be in form 3, so it's time for us to add to the coffers of tuition centres.
kt, we're all human :)
Mak andeh, good on you.
Josh, all parents mean well, though we sometimes say things that don't sit well with the kids. But I don't think you've got this type of problem, right? You're already so smart.
sk, thanks for dropping by.
Dannie, if the child himself thinks, "I've only got 3As but my best friend has 6As. I need to do some catching-up," fine. But if the parent puts him down with "why can't you be like your best friend who got 6As, you stupid boy?" it can be demoralizing for the boy, right?
p3p4, I've heard this type of stories before. And don't our kids love to hear them, takes the pressure off obtaining a string of As.

Allyfeel said...

Congrats to no.1 for getting 5As.

Reading this post makes me learn and think Lydia. It's not easy not to compare, I hope my son will grow up to be a creative child whom understand and enjoy what he studies.

Unfortunately, just heard from FIL and hubby that they are gonna enrol my son to one of the very well known Chinese school in town.
Just worried about how wld my son handle peer pressure.

Actually it's still early to think as now he is still young. Just a thought, I didn't like peer pressure when I was young.

Lydia Teh said...

allyfeel, thanks. Yes, it's difficult not to compare but we just have to try. My kids attend one of the more well-known Chinese schools in town and they coped. Children are awfully resilient. I've known kids who didn't have any background in Chinese : no Chinese kindy, parents aren't Chi-educated, yet they did pretty well when thrown into the deep pool. As you said, your son is still young, cross the bridge when you come to it :)

Doreen said...

YES! Finally mothers who understands the predicament children go through when they compare them with relatives and friends! Not just exam results. It's a vicious cycle. When we're schooling - they compare grades, when we're working - they compare salary and company reputation, when we are dating - they compare partners (so-and-so dating a doctor lah, so-and-so dating a lawyer lah), when we get married - they compare dinner tables, when we have children - they compare who gives birth first/boy or girl/... and blah blah blah. Then we end up doing the same to our kids. It's hard to break. Sigh.

Dr.Prince (王子- 陳琮祐) said...

One day, there was this parent who has a 4 year old boy and a 6 year old girl; they came to me complaining that their children tend to fight over everything, food, plays, TV and many more. She kept on complaining that they (children) never listen to her. She asked if there’s any way to control them.

Before I start my inquiry, she shouted to her 6 year old girl, “Why can’t you quiet down like your brother?” One moment I was thinking of a solution, the next moment I think I have just found one.

As far as I know, and my ‘shallow’ experience working with parent and children, I have always advised parent not to do comparison, not even with others, because it carries certain psychological impact on that particular child being compare with. It is not just led to sibling rivalries, but can linger on to the friendship circle, neighbor and relatives when / if it got worse…you may wonder why children tend to rebel so much at young age sometime, it is our ‘original hand-make’ problem…;)..Merry Chirstmas and Happy New Year....

Queen Of The House said...

I think the reason I was such a happy child in school was because my parents never compared me with anyone back then (it helped also lah that I got good grades) ;)
Tuition classes are okay as long as the child needs them, otherwise, why waste money if your child can study better on his/her own. As for not comparing, it is difficult NOT to do, but at least we can just keep it to ourselves and not let anyone else hear our verbal comparisons (eh, simpan dalam hati good or not?)

RunWitMe said...

Happy New Year, Lydia!

marsha said...

Yes, you're absolutely right!! I hate it when people compare me to someone else and I would never dream of doing it to my own kids. I subconsciously do it too (Niece started reading at the age of 2+ YO) and sometimes find myself saying, "How come xxx can read and enjoy reading...."

And then I slap myself.

Lydia Teh said...

Doreen, yeah, there's no end to the comparison game, is there.
Dr prince, I hope when your time comes, your wisdom will help you be a great father.
Queen, keep the comparison in the heart, okay lah. Just like if you have a favourite child, don't show it blatantly. Keep it in your heart. Otherwise will create discontent.
Runwitme, thanks. Same to you. Er, sori but is this Pueh Tian or Alden?
Marsha, I hope your cheeks aren't red yet :)