Yesterday over lunch, I asked my daughter about her day in school. Listless, she mentioned that something happened but she doesn’t want to tell me what it is.
As a parent, your anxiety kicks in pretty fast: is she in trouble? Who with? A bully? A friend? A group of friends who are ostracising her for some reason? A teacher? What?
First of all, CALM DOWN, mom. You’re a parent. Act like one
Ok, what do we need to do here? We need to get the child to tell us, an adult, what happened without making it look like we are forcing them. It is, after all, their choice to tell us about it or not.
What is a good motivation for them to tell us? I GOT IT.
“Am I going to find out about this from your teacher eventually?”
“Maybe. And you might freak out.”
“Then perhaps it is a good idea to let me know first. Cause freaking out here is better than freaking out in school.”
That did it. She told me about how she was caught cheating on a Chinese spelling test in school. The teacher told her to stay back to do the spelling test a second time, eating into their recess time which would otherwise be spent not worrying out over how little time they have to eat.
“Are you mad at me, mom?
“I don’t see why I should be. You do your homework every day and that tires you out so much sometimes you pass out halfway through while writing. If I’m mad about anything, it’s that you were careless enough to be caught.”
“How do I not get caught?”
“Keep the answers in your head. That way, no paper trail. Oh and don’t cheat with lazy, careless kids. They will make you get caught. Don’t cheat during exams though. It’s not worth it. A failing grade is still better than zero, and a permanent record.”
- Ask her to keep all she learns inside her head, checked.
- Don’t conspire with kids who do not study, reduce liabilities to further reduce chances of being caught, checked.
- Set the limits of where this behaviour is allowable and where it isn’t and the reasoning behind this limit, checked.
Hm, she is still at unease. Should I have been more strict? Should I have freaked out more? Maybe she needs some reassurance.
“Something still troubling you?”
“Are you sure you’re not mad?”
“Sweetie. You guys have way too many spelling tests, which I don’t agree with in the first place. And secondly, I’ve cheated on tests before when I was younger, though not during primary school because we don’t have the sort of pressures you do now.”
“Wait, you cheated on tests?”
“Just the small ones. The kind you don’t have enough time to prepare for. Not like big exams, those give you plenty of time to revise and prepare. Dad probably has cheated on a test or two. And we don’t leave paper trails like you, you amateur.”
“How did you do it?”
Well, first of all… (This is between me and my 2.0. I’m not sharing my trade secret with the rest of you’s. Figure out your own system.)
“Okay. I’ll try that.”
“What? No. Don’t try that. Your teachers are way stricter than mine. It’s just an example of how to not leave a paper trail. Again, don’t try it with kids who lack the motivation to learn and use the system properly, please. Even if you are going to do something you’re not supposed to, picking the right team member goes a long way.”
“Yeah, mom. I’m good.”