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Monday
Oct012012

Parenting Tweens: When Your Tween Cheats

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today's kids feel the academic pressure at an earlier age than ever before. With many states opting to test kids at younger and younger ages, teachers find themselves commanded to teach to the test to ensure that their pupils make the grade. 

 

To pretend that our kids are not affected by the frenetic frenzy created in classrooms as teachers are often pushed to teach new concepts at a break-neck pace would not only be ignorant, but foolish.

Perhaps what is even more incredible is that the majority of kids have learned to keep pace in order to successfully push ahead. We should not kid ourselves that this feat is easy, nor does it come without casualties. The sooner the kids who are having difficulty keeping up get acknowledged the better the chance that they will receive the additional support to move forward.

Of course the reasons kids may not be able to keep up vary. Some may have difficulty picking up new concepts at such a quick pace, while others may simply get stuck on one unit. Because each unit lays the ground work for the next, the failure to grasp one concept can result in an unnecessary catastrophe. Some kids learn easily but they are overwhelmed by the stress and pressure to succeed. As such a preponderance of anxiety can prevent them from pushing forward.

When Tweens transition to middle school, the pressure to succeed becomes more intense. Academic inclination is no longer enough on which to get by. The ability to keep organised becomes paramount. Students are now expected to be autonomous as teacher support diminishes due to the changing of classes. For some kids this new formula can indeed spell disaster. Pushed to the limit, some kids may indeed begin to feel desperate.

Looking for a way to keep ahead or merely keep up they cheat. The ways in which they cheat vary. Regardless of whether it is preplanned or simply a weak moment of uncertainty, if they are caught the consequences are usually the same. Peruse through a student handbook at any school around the country and you are sure to find a rule about cheating. Consequence are often clear and simple. The ways in which students choose to cheat are not however.

As a parent, the initial reaction is often disappointment and maybe even anger. After all, you know your tween knows better, or so you thought. What do you say, where do you start? You need answers, you want to understand.

It is important that you tread carefully. Embarrassment and shame are two of the hardest emotions to deal with. Your tween is likely to feel both when you confront him. Try to talk with your tween, not at her.

Defensive statements such as "everyone does it" should be discussed. Your best approach when responding to such a statement is to explain why cheating is not acceptable. Don't spin your wheels trying to disprove that her claim is untrue not "everyone" cheats. After all even if that were true, chances are you would still not be okay with your tween cheating.

Put your energy into evaluating why your tween felt he had to cheat. Is he having trouble understanding the class material? Does he need to learn how to study? Is he so overbooked with outside activities that he doesn't have time to study? Regardless of the reason, putting your energy into future prevention is an important thing to do.

Your opinion really matters to your Tweens. That is why the importance of instituting a consequence can not be underscored. If the incident has highlighted that your tween needs some support, you should also formulate a plan to ensure that going forward your tween is getting the support he needs.

Although you may feel bad if the reasoning behind the cheating is a reflection of your tween's struggle, it is important to send the message that there are better ways to handle things. After all if you were having financial troubles you wouldn't try o solve the issue by robbing a bank.

When you institute a consequnce you send a clear message that despite the challenges your tween may be struggling with, cheating is never the solution.

It is disappointing when your tween does something seemingly out of character. By calmly discussing the situation you provide an opportunity not only to hear what your tween has to say, but a forum in which he will listen and and learn from you. 

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