School Stuff Tell Your Tweens + Teens

Make a Fresh Start With “Yet”

Does is seem like your teen is thinking, “My relationship with my mom is falling apart” around report-card time?

How would you like a simple tool that will undo the emotional damage of report cards and grades? How about three tools?

Report Cards are misused and misinterpreted pretty much across the board. Most parents don’t recognize the harm inflicted because they were raised under the Report Card Reign. 

Here’s the thing. As much as we’d like students to understand that report cards reflect progress, young children see grades as a reflection of whether their teachers like them or not.  They don’t necessarily understand it’s a representation of what they accomplished. 

Unfortunately, that view doesn’t always change as they get older.

And, as much as we’d like parents to view report cards as progress reports, parents see report cards as an indicator of how involved they should have been in their child’s schooling… almost like that C- in biology is actually a C- in parenting.    

Low grades = low self esteem for kids

Low grades = low self esteem for parents

Sadly, self-esteem gets tangled up with grades. Those report cards can make your kids feel good about a high grade (that they don’t really understand how they got, so the teacher must really like them), or bad about themselves because they didn’t measure up, disappointing parents and teachers alike.

I’m putting together 3 techniques that will give you a fresh way to view grades and Report Cards – as tools at your disposal. Then, I’m going to teach you how to use this tool to maintain proper perspective about your kids’ grades. Finally, I’m going to teach you how to use this new perspective to positively impact how your KIDS see their grades, so they can use them as tools, too.

Here’s the great news. With this info, you’ll be able to use the summer to help your kids get their feet planted under them in time for a fresh start next year.

#1 – Tools At Your Disposal

Report Cards are tools, and nothing more. They provide information that you can harness for your child’s success and well-being, but first you have to be able to put things into perspective in order to do that consistently. 

Grades reveal you your child’s areas of strength, and areas that need attention. They are not about whether your child is a good student or bad. It’s all about whether your cherub can navigate the classroom situation while trying to learn. 

Low grades are merely flags that indicate changes need to be made. Once you, the teacher and your child figure out (as a team) how your child can successfully learn, things will improve.

When you learn to use Report Cards as tools, your kids will follow suit. That will be empowering for both of you!

#2 – Keeping Perspective

Report Cards are tools for analysis. They are not good or bad. They just are. Your perspective is adopted by your kids, and has longer lasting effects on them than a mere grade. If you see Report Cards as tools that provide information, so will your kids. 

Even if you’re darlings are getting stellar grades, perspective is important. When you learn to objectively analyze grades instead of being emotionally jerked around by them, you can more easily figure out the next steps to benefit your kids. However, when you get emotional about Report Cards, you keep your kids in an emotional flux about their schoolwork, instead of focused on learning.

I highly recommend you read my earlier article, The Inner Game of Tennis before you continue here. It will help you handle the whole Report Card situation with a fresh perspective. 

#3 – The Power of “Yet”

At some point, academia is going to overwhelm your kids. Something at some time will make them struggle. When that happens, they need perspective to help them through. You can give them a healthy perspective by sharing this:

No one hands a report card to the parent of a toddler and says, “Your child gets a B- in walking.” 

No one tells a young child, “You get a C+ because you’re still using your training wheels.”

That’s because everyone knows that with practice children master those skills. Learning to walk and learning to ride a bike are universally recognized as processes that have to be learned over time.

 So, instead, we encourage them wherever they are in the process. “You almost have it. You might not have it YET, but you will.”

How come we don’t look at education the same way? We should be telling our parents and students, “Your report card shows you haven’t mastered long division YET.”

“Yet” is so powerful. It puts perspective on how far you’ve progressed, and gives you encouragement to keep going. Parents who understand the power of  “yet” say supportive things like… 

“You almost have it. You might not have it yet, but you will.” 


“We’ll have time to get after that this summer. We’ll find a fun way to approach it.

 You’re going to feel so confident going back to school next year!”

No one gives up when they believe in “yet.”

3 Empowering Techniques 

Get a fresh start on the whole grade-thing starting today. Go ahead. Claim the power. 

  1. Recognize Report Cards are merely a diagnostic tool, and not a representation of who your child is.
  2. Adjust your perspective from an emotional one to an objective one.
  3. Use the power of “yet” every chance you get, and encourage your kids to do the same.

That’s all you have to do. You got this!

Join my Talk To Teens 2021 series for more about this topic! Register here:

July 31 & August 1 – Rocking Back to School

October 23 & October 24 – First-Quarter Check-In

Awesome Moms Tell Your Tweens + Teens Walking the Walk

A Fresh Start for Your Parenting Role

Here’s one way on how to improve mother-daughter relationships:

The Phone Call:

Her (voice distressed): Mom, do you have time to chat?

Me (stopping what I was doing): Sure. What’s my role here?

Her: I don’t know. I guess I just want to vent. Let me finish before you say anything.

Me: No problem (then clamping my mouth shut)

Her (25 minutes later): … I’m the kind of person, that when he…

Me (resisting the urge to chime in): Mm-hmm

Her (10 minutes later): What do you think?

Me (floodgates open): Do you feel like the situation is taking some of your power away?

Her: Yeah, I guess I do.

Me: I get it. Let’s look at that together.…   

Me (45 minutes later):  How are you feeling now?  

Her: You know, Mom, I feel like it’s going to be alright.   

Me: That’s because it is going to be alright. It always was.

Her (laughing): Thanks, Mom.   

Is that an example of brilliant parenting, or what? It used to be that when I heard distress in my daughter’s voice, I would immediately jump in with sage advice. I gave that up a long time ago. Why? Because 75% of the time she ended up emotionally exploding, which, to me seemed to come out of nowhere. We’d go to our corners, with her feeling worse than when she started, and me feeling blindsided, ineffectual, and fully aware that I had let my daughter down when she had come to me for help.

Then, one glorious day, I heard her when she said (once again), “Mom, that doesn’t help me at all!” Instead of backing off and feeling snubbed, I asked her what would help… and she told me

Epiphany! If I found out at the beginning of the conversation what she needed for help, we could avoid the blow ups.

That changed everything, but believe me, it didn’t happen overnight. The urge to emotionally rescue my child was an ingrained habit, overwhelming in my compulsion to make things better for her. But, I was determined to have us share a good relationship, and gradually things shifted.

Nowadays, I ask what role I should fill (Mommy, friend, listener, advisor, comforter) right after I hear that initial emotion-filled, “Mom!” 

I probably do it right about 90% of the time. The other 10% messes up when the magical clamp on my mouth somehow loosens, and I chime in before she’s ready to hear it. (Don’t judge me. I’m a mom.) Regardless, we’ve evolved from “Mom doesn’t get me” to “Mom can help me.” Her trust in our relationship has built back up, even though I haven’t been perfect at it. 

It worked for me, and it can work for you. All you have to do to narrow that widening gap with your kids is to make a Fresh Start using this simple technique. Instead of anticipating their needs based on how you see the world, ask them what role they need you to fill at this moment. And then, do your best to fill it.

Make it a formal Fresh Start by sitting down your kids during an emotionally neutral time, and telling them you want to try something new. Try saying something like this:

Sometimes I want to fix things for you so much, that I don’t hear what you’re trying to tell me. I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to try something different. When you come to me with a problem, I’m going to ask you what you need from me. I can be a listener, a hugger, an advisor, whatever you want – you tell me what you need me to do, and I’ll hear you. We’ll solve your problem together.

Sharing your Fresh Start with your kids will

  • keep them from being confused when you try it for the first time. 
  • make your intentions accountable.
  • allow them to remind you when you forget to ask which role you should fill.

The next time your child wails, “Mom!” you’ll be ready. 

  • When he needs you to listen, listen and don’t talk.
  • When she needs you to cuddle, hug and listen.
  • When they need advice, tell them what they need to know.
  • When she wants to vent, let her vent without judgment (it’s just venting). 

Accept that there will be a learning curve. From personal experience, I can tell you first hand that it may be difficult to keep your mouth shut. When I made my Fresh Start, my daughter was old enough to respect my attempts to improve our relationship. Despite her own emotional turmoil, it wasn’t unusual for her to interject a good-humored, “Mom, what did we say your role was supposed to be?” since it wasn’t unusual for me to get so caught up in the topic, I’d prematurely start offering advice. 

Sometimes, I still can’t help myself, but that’s okay because after years of positive results, she’s confident that my goal is to help her when she wants help – and even now – to cuddle her when she needs a hug.

Make a Fresh Start. It’s well worth the effort. You’ll gain your kids’ trust by making them feel heard and understood. Someday, you may even overhear them sharing your pearls of wisdom with their friends. Now, that’s awesome!

Bonus: This technique actually works with the other personal relationships in your life (spouse, siblings, parents). Try it!

For more parenting advice, get “How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door,” today.