It may be a consolation to know that many of the world’s most influential thinkers started out as bad students (think Bill Gates and Thomas Alva Edison), but no parent wants to encourage their kids to get bad grades. Every child hits a road block now and then, which often results in a less-than-stellar report card or constant fails in one particular subject. It can be frustrating to go through this with your child. Just what is the appropriate response to a bad grade?

Keep Your Temper in Check – It may be hard not to lose it when your child comes home with a bad test grade or report card. Yelling and immediately going into punishment can often make the situation worse. Your first step is to take a deep breath and count to 10 (or 100). Then sit down with your child and talk about what you both think may have contributed to the failing grade.

Collect the Facts – Does your child spend too much time texting and not enough time hitting the books? Did your family go through a recent upset, such as an illness in the family, death of a pet or move? Sometimes, a new set of persuasive friends can be the cause of the problem. Look at all of the factors surrounding your child’s life, both in school and out. Also talk to your child’s teacher to get a sense of who your child is in school, as well as a deeper understanding of the teacher/student dynamic. Some educators are much harder than others, or have a teaching style that might not sync with your child’s learning style. Find out what your child’s attendance and lateness record is to make sure they haven’t been cutting class and missing important lessons.

Check for Underlying Causes – Is it possible that your child is trying as hard as they can yet are still struggling? Perhaps it’s time for medical assessments, including hearing and vision tests. Sometimes, an undiagnosed learning disability, such as dyslexia or attention deficit disorder, can be the problem.

Know Your Child – Every child is an individual with different abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Some are wonderful writers, but have a very hard time with memorization. Others may be math whizzes, but can’t concentrate on reading. Figuring out where your child needs support can help you determine a plan of action, such as added study aids or a tutor, in order to bring their grades up.

Keep Perspective – A bad grade does not signal a lifetime of failures to come. Not every child is going to get straight As all of the time, but most children who struggle at various points are able to pull their grades up with parental support.

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at

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