If your child comes home from school with a note from the teacher
that says he was caught cheating, your first instinct may be to
ground him for life. Instead, set aside time to talk with your
child. Ask your son what happened -- and really listen to what he
has to say. Then follow these guidelines:
Find out why he
felt the need to cheat. Is he afraid of what you will do if
he gets a bad grade? Think about the message you're sending. Do
you expect your son to bring home every report card with all
A's? If your son decides that you care more about the grades
than how he earned them, he may decide to cheat to get the A's.
Make it clear
to your son that a low grade would not be the end of your love
for him. Assure him that mistakes are OK and that you will
love him whether he gets A's or C's. Your son needs to know that
you love him for who he is, not for what he does -- and that if
he's done his best, that's more important than being the best.
Tell him you would be more concerned than angry about a low
grade. Help your son develop his study habits -- so he can make
better grades on his own.
Don't listen if
your son says that "everybody" cheats. If your son thinks
cheating is "no big deal," tell him he's wrong. It's dishonest
and unfair. Cheaters not only rob themselves of really learning
the material -- they are unfair to honest students.
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Did your son
let someone else cheat from him? Find out why. Was he afraid
this person wouldn't like him? Let your son know that a real
friend would never reject him for not doing what he wants. Help
him role-play turning down an invitation to cheat. "I'd like to
help you, Jeremy, but I don't like cheating. Besides, we could
get into a lot of trouble."
What should you do? The most important thing is what not to do.
When teachers catch students cheating, many parents go to great
lengths to get the decision overturned. The best approach is not to
make excuses for your child. Let your son suffer the consequences of
cheating. It may be the most important lesson he learns this year.
For more information about helping
children learn or to submit your own question, go to
http://advisor.parent-institute.com. All questions will receive
a prompt answer by e-mail.
Copyright 2005, The Parent Institute
"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful
Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.