Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Art of Reframing

Nobody gets in line for pain or heartbreak, but it is precisely those things that build our character and grow our wisdom. So why do we interpret bad experiences as bad? I say interpret, because I truly believe that we have a choice in how we process our experiences.

Case in point, my son recently got a crappy grade on a math quiz. I’m sure he’d love that I’m sharing this with the world right now! He was absent the day the teacher went over what was going to be on the quiz. He asked her what he’d missed. She didn’t mention one type of problem that ended up being on the quiz. And so, even though he’d done the responsible thing and checked in after having been absent, and even though he studied, he came home with a 6 out of 10 on that quiz. He was feeling pretty upset. He went to the teacher the next day and explained what had happened, but she refused to allow him the opportunity to retake the quiz or do any extra credit work. She told him he’d just have to make it up on the next test.

Now that’s a pretty crappy thing to have happen. But after my son worked through feeling upset about it, he decided to look at it as a challenge instead of a setback. He met with a tutor. He studied straight through his free periods and lunch, and for hours at home last night.  In other words, he put in a lot more time studying for the test than he would have if he’d received a better grade on the quiz. The test is worth a lot more than the quiz was. Getting that low quiz grade might have been exactly the push he needed to bring his overall grade higher than even he thought he could.

I know a lot of adults who look at a setback as a just that, a setback. Not my son. He reframed that setback and turned it into a challenge. My son is in 10th grade and I’m grateful he’s learning how to do this now. It will make a huge difference in the rest of his life.

Yours Truly,
One Very Proud Mom


Teri Biebel said...

Oh how I wish my 15 year old would take a page from your son's book. She's also in 10th grade and is doing really poorly in history. Matter of fact, Parent-Teacher conferences are this evening. YIKES! She has very little interest in history and therefore, makes very little effort in bringing up the grades. Band? Spanish? Trig? Those are her strong suits so she tries harder there.

Wish I could get her to take more of an interest in bringing up the grades in those classes she doesn't find as appealing.


Susan Campbell Cross said...

Just seeing this now--sorry about the delayed reply Teri! I hope things have improved since then. It's tough enough to be a teenager, isn't it? I wish the teachers were more understanding. I had the same issue with my son about him not putting as much effort in on subjects he didn't like. He didn't feel like he'd ever use the info being taught, and he didn't enjoy learning it. I told him that's OK...nobody likes EVERYTHING. But, if he wants to go to go to a good college, then he's gonna have to look at succeeding in those classes as part of that greater goal. If he doesn't want to have "to learn xyz" as the goal, that's fine. But if he has "going to a good college" as a goal, than learning xyz is a step toward it. I think that reframe helped a lot. See if it works with your daughter. Also, I hired my friend to tutor him.