Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To push or not to push?

What would you do if you were in this position:

Exams are around the corner. You have a smart and intelligent child, but he is very playful and would do anything else BUT study. You know that even without studying he can pass, but with a "not-too-good" grade. However, you know that if you push him, he can come out tops. Would you push?

This is the position I am in. My son, N, is very playful. A smart, intelligent boy that simply hates to study. Pushing him would involve a lot of shouting, sitting next to him with the cane, and a deterioration in the mother and son relationship.

I am really concerned about this deterioration in our relationship, so this time round, I decided again that I would not push him. As expected, he came back with not fantastic grades, but he passed. Not the worst in class, but we know he can do better than what he got. Hubby is concerned. I know that if I sit him down and go through his work with him, he can excel. This has happened for the last 2 years where I left him to study by himself for the mid-year exam and he came back with unimpressive grades, and when I sat down with him to work for the year end exams , he topped his class for every single paper. But because he did not do so well at the mid term, he ended up not being a prize winner.

But he simply hates it when I sit down with him and go through his work!! And I dont want to push it. I dont want so much unpleasantness to be associated with studying!! I want him to grow up and realise for himself the need to study and do well for himself.

However, he doesnt seem concerned about his grades. He keeps saying he did better than the worst person in class. But why compare with the worst, when he is capable of being the best?

So how? Should I be kiasu or not?


Ydiana said...


Gosh... I have the same challenge with my children. How do we overcome that...? I guess the only way is just sit around them but smile all the way? Can we do that??

Hey, your profile almost describes moi. Hehehe...I haven't got to read your older posts yet. This is my first visit.

stay-at-home mum said...

Hi ydiana
Welcome! I still am not sure what to do. I just cant sit around and smile, coz he will be making me very cross - jumping around, climbing cupboards, kicking wahtever is lying around. sometimes i think its better when i am not around!!

JO-N said...

A dilemma, isn't it? Well, I think you can make learning fun and you won't be blaming yourself for not pushing him and he will not hate studies.

bp said...

SAHM, I can identify with you on this! My elder boy is like this, and it drives me crazy when he is so super distracted, and like N, he too thinks it's OK so long as he's not the worst.

We've tried encouraging him with little "incentives" here and there... doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. Only thing is I don't really like to make everything out to be reward-oriented. Probably you've done the same, so I fully understand your position.

Constance Chan said...

heyyyy thanks for the heads up on yr secret diary...hahahah so glad you are back.

and thank you for the mother's day wish too. hope yrs was wonderful.

my eldest also needed pushing.. her grades aren't fantastic either. her mandarin is getting worst this mid year exam.. i learnt malay in school so i have to rely on her tuition teacher to guide her. last year she could still get band 1 but this year is dropping. sigh.

i have been sitting next to her few times a week for maths revision and worksheet. cos her maths were just borderline. as a mummy, am stressed cos she has been going remedials for her maths in school. how stressful school is. i worry she may have to start remedial after school break this june. that will mean she has tight schedules daily.

Ling That's Me said...

hmm...if you dont push him, he will still be able to pass his exams right? only not top the class, right?
does he feel any stress if you push him? if he does, then I prefer not to push.

Yan said...

I am no expert - but I do borrow a lot of wisdom from others.

Get hold of this book -

The way they learn
How to discover and teach to your child's strengths
by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias

It's a focus on the family book.

If you can't find it by now (published in 1994), drop me a note, I'll see what I can do.

stay-at-home mum said...

Thanks Yan
Will let you know if I can find the book - when i get the chance to visit the bookshops!

Hi Ling
He sure feels the stress when I am right next to him, esp when he is not concentrating - which is like all the time. Coz as soon as i turn my back, he is climbing the bookshelf, or kicking some non existent ball!

Hi Constance
Glad you found the way here. School is so stressful in singapore. I wish they would really let the children enjoy childhood.

hi bp
Tried "bribing" him, but like you said, doesnt always work. Also, like you, i dont like to tie rewards to everything. Very soon they will be black mailing me for soemthing for everything that they do!!.

Hi Jo-N,
I really dont know how to make studying fun for them!! For the young ones, I can, but come to a stage, studying is studying, and I feel they have to be responsible for it themselves! If you have ideas pls share.

TripleJin said...

sei lor.....

i so dread this! I know No.1 is very distracted!!!

i wish u had an answer for me.....



Yan said...


Recognize the children's learning preferences is basically what the book is all about.

My daughter prefers to study alone with books strewn everywhere and music blaring. Believe me, it used to drive me crazy. It was sort of hurting my pride that I really did not raise her that way! But, I have to settle with it - that's the way she learns.

My son prefers to study in group, with friends at my house or in library. Believe me, it also drives me crazy. To the least, I need to prepare some food and drinks after the study, or who would sweetly call you "Auntie"? And I have to drop him at library and fetch him later!

The book ends with this -

It's never been more important to help our children succeed in a world that is often difficult to understand.It can make a difference with your children if you will devote time and energy to discovering the way they learn.