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Academic performance is something that most  people stress about at some point, and this is completely normal. The pressure of doing well enough to keep up with the work, to do well enough to get into a course, or to not fail a class can be very difficult to manage emotionally. Therefore, it is normal for this to take a toll on students and those around them. However, if this stress starts to affect the way your child is functioning in their everyday life, it can be difficult to find the right things to say or the right way to help them. It is often difficult for parents to balance their desire for their child to succeed with their desire to have a positive and supportive relationship with their child. You want to push them to do well, but at the same time you don’t want to push them away from you. Sometimes it is even just the pressure that the child puts on themselves that is making their grades have such a big impact on their life. If this pressure is beginning to become unbearable for your child and starting to take a toll on their relationships and their happiness, it may be beneficial to get them some assistance. This help is not only recommended for those children who are struggling to do well – but also for those who are academically gifted. Academically gifted students are those that already achieve very high grades and may excel in comparison to their peers – however, the pressure of maintaining this may take a toll on everyday life. It can turn into perfectionistic thinking and high expectations for oneself, often specifically in one or two areas that they excel. Anything less than a perfect or high score can lead to disappointment and a feeling of failure, and because of the abstract way that a gifted person may think it can in turn make the concrete and test-taking tasks more difficult. If your child has these qualities, it can be a great thing. However, if the pressure of maintaining these very high abilities becomes so great that it starts to negatively impact other areas of life – such as family relationships, mood, and behaviour – it may help to seek a mental health professional to better manage their expectations. A practitioner at VCPS can assist your child in reducing the pressure associated with achievement or lack of achievement, whilst providing them with techniques and encouragement to do the best that they can do. Some ways that this is achieved is through:
  • Helping to manage their emotions and stress related to doing well
  • Providing education and skill-building in organisation, concentration and mindfulness
  • Working individually or with the family to identify excessive expectations, and challenging these to be more appropriate and supportive
  • Relaxation training
  • Identifying the thoughts that trigger stressful emotions, and altering these to have a more productive and positive outlook
  • Helping to discuss any concerns as a family in a way that is civil and allows a greater understanding of each individual’s point of view

Assessments:

If you are interested in gaining a comprehensive understanding of you child’s academic difficulties or academic giftedness, a cognitive assessment by a qualified VCPS practitioner is recommended. A comprehensive picture of an individual’s abilities is provided through structured testing, a semi-structured interview with the child’s parents and information gained from their educational setting. A cognitive profile is greatly beneficial in not only guiding treatment, but more importantly can lend vital information required to assist in educational planning in terms of a child’s learning styles, strengths and utilising these strengths to improve cognitive weaknesses.