What To Do With the “Average” Student

HarrisonOne of the biggest fears that parents deal with this time of year is that their back-to-school child will once again prove to be nothing more than average. Average in math, average in reading, average in science, average in language. Just hopelessly, utterly, completely average. So average it can’t be explained away by a medical condition like ADD or ADDHD or dyslexia or OCD or emotional disturbance. They don’t have a condition a doctor can cure, a pill can change or that society will comfort them for. Their child has reached their full potential and their full potential is average.

Instead of celebrating our child’s normalcy, we cloak ourselves in misery and spend hours on the phone crying to friends, hours in the school pleading with counselors to change or kids or hours late at night trolling the internet about how we can lift our child into the rarefied air of high class rankings, select club teams,  artistic accomplishment and scientific breakthroughs.

We think we’re helping, but our children can see disappointment written all over our face and they know they’re to blame but they not sure for exactly what.  They spend hours studying and score a “C”. They spend hours with a tutor and score another “C”. They spend hours with a private coach and continue to sit on the bench. It take a couple of years but if we stay at it, we can teach our kids to hate themselves because they are themselves.

So what to do? Several things. And these steps should allow you to get off the Prozac you’ve been taking since you first had that horrible thought you student may well not be “special.”

  1. Understand the problem isn’t with your child, it’s with you and your expectations. If your child isn’t stealing, cheating, lying or getting stoned everyday, you have the makings of a great kid on your hands and need to celebrate that fact.
  2. Don’t compare your kids to anyone else’s kids. That’s the surest way to feel bad about you and them.
  3. Understand people (and kids) who change the world are passionate, creative, upbeat and have a positive attitude. No tutor in the world can teach those characteristics. But parents can bring those characteristics out.
  4. Happy “average” kids do more and accomplish more than miserable, neurotic, genius level kids.
  5. Bring God into their life early. We can all use a powerful non-judgmental being who loves us for who we our, not for our report card.
  6. Teach your kids the extraordinary value of kindness and generosity. It will mean friends and opportunities for life. Many, many “exceptional” people die miserable and alone.
  7. Teach your kids the gift of gratitude. Maybe they don’t start but they’re on the team. Maybe they are not on the team, but they can sit with friends at the game. Gratitude will take them further than abilities ever will.
  8. Introduce them to all kinds of things, from museums to air force flight shows to chess in the park. Let them find the one thing they can be passionate about.
  9. Teach them to serve. That’s the surest way to be regarded as exceptional.

      10. Ease up. Let your kid be a kid. And let God’s plans unfold for them.


Harry H Harrison Jr. is a NYTIMES best selling parenting author with over 3.5 million books in print. He has been interviewed on over 25 television programs, and featured in over 75 local and national radio stations including NPR. His books are available in over thirty-five countries throughout Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Norway, South America, China, Saudi Arabia and in the Far East. For more information visit www.fearlessparenting.com.


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