Parents’ Unusual Way of Punishing Daughter for Bad Math Grade

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In response to a student’s near-failing math grade, her parent took away her phone. But after the mom or dad posted a photo of the child’s punishment on social media, an expert says the parent also took away his or her trustworthiness. (Photo: FistFullofCookies/Reddit). 

When it comes to handling a child’s poor grade, one family thinks they have the issue locked up. Redditor “FistFullofCookies” shared a photo in a Monday post with the headline, “My daughter is currently pulling a D- in math. This is her phone,” showing an iPhone mounted securely inside of a 3D frame. “In case of B,” reads a note underneath the phone, “break glass.”

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The image, posted in a “Funny” category thread on the social media site, pulled in a whopping 3 million views and more than 3,000 comments in just one day. Some praised the “creativity” of the punishment and others urged the parents to "figure out the reason why she’s getting a poor grade in the first place.”

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“I promise it’s a matter of motivation,” the Redditor added in a follow-up remark. (The parent didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment). But parenting coach Sharon Silver tells Yahoo Parenting the move doesn’t make the grade as far as effective incentive.

“Yes it’s funny on social media,” says the author and founder of Proactive Parenting. “But it’s probably not funny to the child that her mother or father is humiliating her online. Parents definitely need to help motivate their children but what this post does is make her bad grade a big joke.”

And that’s a fail in terms of maintaining the bond between parent and child. “It breaches the trust factor in the relationship,” says Silver, adding that it turns a private family matter into a public spectacle. “And there’s nothing in humiliation that is motivating to your child.”

Motivation, she adds, just isn’t something that mom or dad can force a child to feel. “Parents need to understand that motivation is something created internally, something self-driven. Exterior motivation at teenagers’ age will most likely always backfire.”

So how do you help spark incentive to study in a kid who’s clearly having trouble? “When teens hold responsibility for their own future, all of a sudden they become pretty motivated,” she says.

Taking away her cell phone, in and of itself, isn’t a bad idea. “Unless the child pays for her phone herself, it belongs to the parents and they can say, ‘I don’t pay for phones for grades under B,’” she says. “’If you need help extra tutoring I will support you. What do you need?’”

Silver advises parents facing this problem to find out why the child thinks good grades aren’t important, if she isn’t taking the situation seriously, and to make sure she understands what effect this will have later on. “Just ask the child what kind of life do you plan to provide for yourself with a failing grade?” she says. “Even if she doesn’t have an answer, it puts in her mind that this is serious.”

By airing the situation on social media you’re shutting down the conversation and any cooperation, Silver adds. “It becomes, ‘You humiliated me, I’m not going to listen to you,’ and now you really have rebellion on your hands.”

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