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My son feels bad about his handwriting, what should I do?

Q: My son is studying in class II and is 7 years old. His handwriting is very bad. On the first day of the new session, the teacher while introducing the students to the new teacher, said that his handwriting is very bad in front of the whole class. On another occasion, one of his classmates also said "Oh! what a bad handwriting." He was very hurt that day. When he returned that afternoon, his friend told me about the incident. That day he kept asking "Mummy, is my handwriting so bad". I soothed him by saying that we will do some homework and your handwriting will improve. In a few days it has improved a lot. Now another problem has erupted. He is learning 'matras' in Hindi. They are learning 'OW'. During a class dictation, he made a number of mistakes, because he is still not clear about O & OW. He never got less that 80% in Hindi when he was in class I. Now in one dictation they have assessed that he's poor in Hindi and five of the children including my son have been asked to stay back in the class while others can go for the music class. They may have done it for his benefit, but it hurts him a lot. He is too sensitive. During this one month, he has changed a lot and keeps thinking that he is useless. I don't know how to comfort him. Should I tell the teacher to allow him for music classes? Will if affect his future in anyway?

A:The two incidents you have reported are common occurrences in every school. Since your son's handwriting improved with a little attention, so will his use of Hindi spelling. There is no need to make an issue of it, in my view. The teacher can turn round and say, "But my saying it has taken care of the problem!" You have to tell your son to be prepared for both praise and scolding. What you have narrated is the way teachers generally behave. Children are not as vulnerable as we think, but there is a vast difference in the way they handle events of this kind and it is likely that your child is sensitive. But instead of making it sound like a tragedy, you should say, Ah, you missed only one day's music class. You will soon catch up! You could talk to the teacher and express some thoughts of course, but not instruct her on what to do. That kind of parental intervention is found to be counter-productive. With children, we must be affectionate and empathetic. But adulthood gives you the advantage of objectivity and distance. Instead of getting affected every time he receives a remark or a punishment, be there for him, solid as a rock. That will take care of most problems. Ultimately, if a school system is found unsuitable for a number of reasons, study all possibilities and change schools. Convents were made for nuns, not for children!

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