Photo courtesy Orcas Photo courtesy Orcas

Praise Makes Perfect

By: Orcas
Wed, Oct. 3, 2018
By Walid ElMoselhy

“My daughter is in first secondary in school. Her biggest nightmare is math. She repeated second preparatory because of math and now she is struggling with every test and fails. She takes private lessons and changed many teachers. We still have the same problem—her biggest fear, and mine too, is that she’ll [have to sit a make-up after summer course] and she might fail too. We are always encouraging her, but [it is] always [the] same result. Any help please.”

I recently received this message from a frustrated parent after I posted a blog about math not being the problem. Some of the other messages I received were from parents who think that they have problematic kids, that their child’s brain is not meant to do elementary level mathematics.

Well, your kid is not the problem. You are.

I once had a preparatory school girl struggling with mathematics. During the home interview (at Orcas we do home interviews with the parents and kids before working with a new student so the tutors are aware of the situation), her father told me that she has been depressed for a while after not making it to a TV show where she can sing. She did not make it because he was busy traveling and could not take a few days off to be with her!

I took the challenge and started working with the kid, only to be surprised by how smart she was. The girl was doing four-digit long-division faster that I can type numbers on my phone’s calculator to double-check! Yet she was “afraid” of answering simple algebraic equations and making lots of silly mistakes.

This did not make any sense to me, so I kept working with her over a few sessions and was happy to see her progressing time after time. I was in tears the day she asked me not to help as she would be able to find the answer on her own. And she did.

Then, during our session on an exam night, one that started after a school day and lasted till 10pm, we were laughing that she forgot to add a minus sign. She spotted the mistake, reviewed the answer and fixed it, only to find her father coming downstairs red-faced and shouting at her about how stupid she was to miss a simple minus sign. He continued to scold her about how bad she was at math and that she should know that and not be a failure.

For a second there I was in shock watching him embarrass his daughter in such a way. And when he asked me to confirm his words, I replied that his daughter was smart enough to correct her mistakes on her own; a hopeless attempt to save any confidence she had left.

Later the parent informed me that the girl got a bad grade on the exam, and they wouldn’t be needing my services anymore. I believe there is a special place in hell for parents like him. . . .

Here is my advice to parents who worry about their struggling kids; you need to learn how to accept your kids. Maybe start by reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and see how Steven Covey and his wife struggled with their son and figured out a way to help him by changing the way they see things.

I have said this before and I am saying it again; your kid is not stupid, he is lacking self-confidence because he cannot see your confidence in him. When a kid goes to an exam knowing that his parent believes he will do bad, he will.

A mother once told me that she sits with her son and tells him that she needs to trust him, so she would change the way she treats him. I told her that the kid needs to trust you, so he can change on his own.

Your children are human beings, their only weakness is that they look up to you. They are smart enough to feel it when you are not proud, when you do not think they will make it, when you are ashamed of who they are. And eventually, they become the way you see them.

Your kid is failing? Try to tell them that you are proud of how hard they work, that tomorrow’s exam is not important on the long run, so they do not panic. Stop comparing them to their successful colleagues and stop looking at their colleagues wondering where you went wrong.

Look at your children and provide them with trust, unconditional love and encouragement, and be proud of who they are right now.

Do not be the problem in their path.

Photo courtesy Orcas

Orcas is a mobile application that connects parents with more than 700 trusted, trained and experienced tutors, language instructors and babysitters, in their area operating in Cairo, Alexandria and El Gouna. Orcas aims to make your search for the suitable tutor an easy and convenient experience. You can find tutors for all school subjects and school systems from KG to Grade 12, view their profiles and see the ratings and reviews given to them by other parents. The application also allows online payment to make the whole experience a smooth sailing. Follow Orcas at


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