A WINNING COMBINATION: GRADES IN SCHOOL AND SELF-ESTEEM (Issue 5)
by Florence Bernard
What’s the one humanly natural thing that overweight girls share with everyone else at school? This fact is universally true and can be seen at all grade levels, anywhere I have taught in the world.
It’s the fact that the better the grades are at school, the higher the self-esteem is in the student. This goes for good students, failing students, big-sized, medium and small students.
Overweight girls have a really tough time at school, at any age. When they are little, other kids will make fun of them and won’t include them in their games. Later on, they continue to be teased and are still made fun of and ignored by boys. They even get cyber-bullied, nowadays.The more electronic formats exist, the more places large girls will experience derogatory comments. As teenagers, girls really don’t need extra mental cruelty on top of all the pressure they get at school. Whether a girl has been overweight all her life or only recently, her self-esteem is usually very low, and she has to deal with many more concerns than other girls.
Being taunted is one thing, but the extra effort needed to move because of extra weight takes its toll. Teens often feel exhausted physically and emotionally. In PE class, the embarrassment is so great, some girls don’t even attend the very class that could encourage them to move.
So there is really one
she can excel
if she wants to.
Working hard in school and using her mental capacities is all it is going to take. No matter where she in in her class ranking, when she puts forth solid effort to enjoy her academic studies, how would that affect her self-esteem? Her pride in her work would change her attitude, naturally. The quiet girl who wanted to be unseen is suddenly going to become a studious worker, someone who has a lot to offer, someone who is a good example of workmanship and pleasure at learning. She may develop study habits that can help others, and she may become someone that people will be happy to work with because she is happy in her work.
Schools, especially in the United States, have come more societal than they were first intended to be. Academics today is a whole world of social issues and athletic competition, on top of the instructional aspect. For moms to help their daughters, moms must communicate clearly. For daughters who carry extra weight on their bodies or minds, they must be receptive to listen as moms emphasize the original purpose of school: studying, learning, developing and excelling.
Through your encouragement, your daughter can get better grades and do better at school overall as one way to feel good about herself. Focusing on grades will be a start for her to keep feeling better and better about herself. If effort in other directions seem to be too much effort for her, your daughter needs to be encouraged to put all she has into her studies.
Your daughter’s building consistent study habits is not going to happen overnight (one of the reasons short term tutors do not always work). She will need continual support, but, little by little, she can see some improvement. Once that starts, the rest will follow. Maybe improvement will start with one subject that she likes more than others. You can encourage her to work on a project a little longer or offer to look at it with her and do research together, for instance. Any supportive initiative to get her interest going and to produce a mind-set that will get a better grade and a good dose of self-satisfaction and worth.
Once she experiences pride in her work, your daughter is going to want more of this feeling, and her focus will slightly shift away from her weight problem. You can have some reward system in place at home when you see improvement at school, whether this be recognition, privilege-based or a tangible item. Some type of acknowledgment will add to the feeling of self-worth we were just talking about. If you reinforce the value of academics, she will want more knowledge.
Little by little, she’ll start putting more effort into all her work at school. She will see school, not as a place of suffering, where all she was getting was grief, but as a place where she can actually shine and feel good. An opportunity to better herself._________________________________________________
Florence Bernard is a parent consultant and educator whose strategies are based on old-fashioned values. She has 20 years experience teaching in five different countries and is the author of Better At School: The Essential Guide To Help Kids Improve At School. Visit betteratschool to get a copy and learn more.