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Pressured or motivated ?

Stressful school life

         The end of any academic year can be a very stressful time for many students in Malaysia. Most of them will face their respective schools' final examinations. Those who don't, usually will not fare any better. That's because students who are not worried about their finals are the ones that have to contend with the national examinations - the UPSR, PMR, SPM and STPM examinations. Undeniably, academic life is stressful. How students handle these stresses vary markedly, depending on whether the student is an overachiever, an underachiever, or a confident person.

Three responses to pressure
         Jay, Zack and Shirley are three students who exemplifies the differing responses to school stresses. They have just received their report cards, each earning the same grade 'B' in Mathematics. Jay is depressed with his performance. To him, the grade is proof that he does not have what it takes to be a good student. He couldn't get an 'A' despite his best efforts. Jay decides to give up since he wouldn't get the 'A' anyhow.

         Shirley is also dissatisfied with her grade. But instead of feeling down like Jay, she is angry with herself. She believes the failure to get an 'A' is due to insufficient efforts on her part. She feels deprived of the 'A' that she deserves, and blames herself for it. Shirley is determined to get an 'A' next time, even if she has to work herself to the ground for it.

         Zack, on the other hand, accepts his grade as proper. He acknowledged that his weaknesses in the subject have resulted in the 'B' grade. But he believes he can do better in the future. He is now motivated to earn at least a 'B+', or possibly an 'A', in the next examination. Zack decides to ask his father, who is good in the subject, to help him improve on his weaknesses.

Is your child pressured or motivated?
         The grades they received are the same for all three situations, but their responses are completely different, depending on how each student deal with pressure. Jay and Shirley both have high expectations of themselves, but responded in opposite ways to pressure. Jay succumbed to pressure by admitting defeat, because he is an underachiever. Shirley responded by adding even more pressure on herself, because she is an overachiever. Finally, Zack accepted the pressure as it is, because he is confident he can meet the challenge for improvement.

         To find out how your child would respond to school pressures, his characteristics should be compared against the following three profiles:

Overachieving students Underachieving students Motivated students
  • Care about grades
  • Have good study habits
  • Are positive about school
  • Set too high expectations
  • Have too many activities
  • Are rigidly organized
  • Seem frantic and anxious
  • Give up fun for overstudy
  • May exhibit symptoms like headaches, stomach aches and nailbiting
  • Are too hard on themselves
  • Care about grades, but say they don't
  • Have poor study habits
  • Blame teachers and schools for problems
  • Blame parents and siblings for problems
  • Set either too high or too low, unrealistic expectations
  • Avoid study and homework
  • Are disorganized and inconsistent
  • Consider themselves to be working hard when putting forth little effort
  • Care about grades
  • Have good study habits
  • Are positive about school
  • Set high, but reasonable goals
  • Are balanced in their activities
  • Are well-organized about schoolwork

         Once you have ascertained to which category your child belongs, you can then provide the appropriate help and support. If your child is a motivated student, he is already on the right track and no special attention is required from you. If he is an overachiever or an underachiever, then he is experiencing the negative effects of pressure and would benefit from your help.

From pressure to motivation
         Tell your pressured child that he should not have unrealistically high expectations. Let him know that you are proud of what he has already achieved, and that he should feel the same too. Encourage the overachieving child to take some time off for fun and relaxation. For an underachieving child, help him develop a good work ethic and self-discipline. If extreme signs of pressure still persist despite your efforts, you should consider seeking professional help as soon as possible.


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Glossary of Terms :
(1) Tuition - Tutelage, the act of tutoring or teaching a student (pupil); Fees paid for instruction (especially for higher education). In Malaysia, tuition is more popularly used to denote tutoring rather than fee. Common Malaysian misspellings: Tiution, Tution. *(BM): Tuisyen, Tiusyen, Tusyen, Tuisen, Tiusen, Tuisyan, Tiusyan, Tusyan. | (2) Home Tuition - Tutoring that takes place at students' or tutors' home as opposed to at tuition centers; Also: Home Tutoring, Private Tuition, Private Tutoring. *(BM): Tuisyen Di Rumah, Tuisyen Swasta. | (3) Personal Tuition - Tutoring on the basis of one tutor catering to one student. Also: Personal Tutoring, Individual Tuition, Individual Tutoring, One-to-one Tuition, 1-to-1 Tutoring, One-to-one Tutoring, 1-to-1 Tuition. *(BM): Tuisyen Peribadi, Tuisyen Persendirian, Tuisyen Perseorangan, Tuisyen Individu. | (4) Group Tuition - Tutoring on the basis of one tutor catering to several (small number, but more than one) students. Also: Small Group Tuition, Small Class Tuition, Group Tutoring, Small Group Tutoring, Small Class Tutoring. *(BM): Tuisyen Berkumpulan, Tuisyen Kumpulan Kecil, Tuisyen Kelas Kecil. | (5) Tutors - Tuition Teachers, persons who conduct tuition. In Malaysia, teacher is more popularly used to denote a school teacher whereas tutor usually means a non-school teacher. Also: Tiutors, Tuitors. *(BM): Guru Sekolah, Cikgu Sekolah, Pengajar Tuisyen, Guru Tuisyen, Cikgu Tuisyen. | (6) Home Tutors - Tutors who provide home tuition as opposed to those who teach at tuition centres. Also: Private Tutors, Personal Tutors, Individual Tutors, One-to-one Tutors, 1-to-1 Tutors, Group Tutors, Small Group Tutors, Private Teachers, Personal Teachers, Individual Teachers, One-to-one Teachers, 1-to-1 Teachers, Group Teachers, Small Group Teachers, Private Tuition Teachers, Personal Tuition Teachers, Individual Tuition Teachers, One-to-one Tuition Teachers, 1-to-1 Tuition Teachers, Group Tuition Teachers, Small Group Tuition Teachers. *(BM): Pengajar Di Rumah, Pengajar Swasta, Pengajar Peribadi, Pengajar Persendirian, Pengajar Perseorangan, Guru Di Rumah, Guru Swasta, Guru Peribadi, Guru Persendirian, Guru Perseorangan, Cikgu Di Rumah, Cikgu Swasta, Cikgu Peribadi, Cikgu Persendirian, Cikgu Perseorangan. | (7) Tuition Centers - Private institutions that conduct tuition on classroom-like settings. Also: Tuition Centres, Tutorial Centers, Tutorial Centres, Tuition Classes, Tutorial Classes, Tutoring Classes. *(BM): Pusat Tuisyen, Pusat Bimbingan, Pusat Tutorial, Kelas Tuisyen. | (8) Home Tuition Jobs - Home tuition vacancies; Posts to be filled by home tutors. Also: Private Tuition Jobs, Home Tutoring Jobs, Private Tutoring Jobs, Home Tuition Assignments, Private Tuition Assignments, Home Tutoring Assignments, Private Tutoring Assignments, Private Tuition Vacancies, Home Tutoring Vacancies, Private Tutoring Vacancies. *(BM): Jawatan Kosong Tuisyen, Pekerjaan Tuisyen, Kerja Tuisyen, Tugasan Tuisyen. | (9) Home Tutees - Home tuition students; Pupils receiving home tuition from home tutors. *(BM): Pelajar Tuisyen, Murid Tuisyen, Penuntut Tuisyen. | *(BM) denotes terms in Bahasa Melayu or Malay Language.