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Why is my daughter not doing well in studies?

Q: My daughter is sixteen years old and is in high school form 2. The teachers tell her that she has the potential to do well and I know it as well, but she does not do well in school. It is only when she is pushed a lot of improvement is seen. But there is nobody to push her all the time. How can she be helped?

A:It is not uncommon for adolescents to vary in their levels of interest and commitment in academic matters. Their bodies are growing and sexual maturation does make life a little complicated. However, your question about your daughter uses the word pushing. Any attempt to push her is going to have limited impact. She has to get motivated and the pull or push as the case may be, has to come from inside her. Without knowing any other detail (for e.g.. about the fathers role, the kind of school she attends, younger siblings, friends), I can only give general suggestions. Talk to her gently over bedtime or relaxing time and find out what course she wants to do. If she has ambitions to get the high marks that will help her enter the course of her choice point out that systematic study now is the ONLY way to get there. Ask her to set small reachable academic goals to start with. These can be gradually increased. Success is the best incentive to more success. She may be concerned about the way she is growing. For example, girls at this age often worry if their breasts are too big (or too small)! Let her talk about her small worries to you. Convince her that ultimately her ability to be a warm, kind and sociable person will bring her the greatest joy. If she can take up one activity, like painting, swimming or music, she may find that it gives her the break she needs from work routines. Make that a reward for attending to her school work more regularly. Reduce her hours at the TV or for that matter at the Computer. Children who surf for long hours on the Net are often coping with a lot of information that they do not need. Or with sites that are meant to distract them. Have her friends come over for a Study Time, bringing their books and each reading by herself (with some interesting snacks thrown in by you). Make up questions in a Quiz format and let them answer in groups of 2 or 3. Make learning more enjoyable, but above all make your daughter see that she will think better of herself if she also gets good grades. But do not make that a condition of your love for her. Think of the exercise not as pushing her, but as accompanying her. All the best.

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