Disappointing PSLE Results can Damage Children's Self Worth if Parents Let Them

Disappointing PSLE Results can Damage Children’s Self Worth if Parents Let Them

The Straits Times
Republished with Permission
22 November 2022

The worst thing that can happen at the PSLE milestone? It causes a young child to lose complete confidence in themselves.

It can take a long time to undo the toll this can take on one’s self-esteem and self-efficacy, or in more complex cases, mental health.

If a child’s sense of self is based solely on ability, and he or she is affirmed and loved when they do well on a test, then failure can have a devastating impact on their sense of self-worth.

On the day PSLE results are released, school leaders and educators can also encourage both parents and children to celebrate themselves and their journey of learning thus far, for surely the perseverance and tenacity shown by the children are worth lauding regardless of the outcomes.

Even outside the PSLE, more can be done to focus on holistic character development. To encourage children to develop other sources of worth beyond exam smarts, one of my children’s schools makes an effort to recognise other areas of achievement, such as contributions to co-curricular activities and when someone exemplifies positive character traits and values.

As the primary influence in a child’s life, parents have a direct role in broadening our children’s sources of worth. We do this whenever we give them room to explore their interests (and not merely for the sake of direct school admissions), time to play and experiment and opportunities to serve others in their community.

These small but consistent actions help grow our children’s understanding of their wiring and talents, and instil a sense of purposefulness beyond the red scrawls of a two-digit number on their test papers.

So let’s work on building that healthy wall of separation between grades and self-worth in our children today.

Remember that at the age of 12, life is only just beginning to unfold for this young seedling under our care. Let’s plant in them the narrative that there is so much more to learning, and there is so much more in store for them in this world.


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