First Grader Puts So Much Pressure on Himself About Grades!

Updated on September 10, 2012
J.F. asks from Milledgeville, GA
7 answers

My first grader, who is very bright for his age, is used to scoring extremely well on tests, assignments and other schoolwork - he typically gets 100s. So today he got a 92 - still a really good grade, right? Well, he was distraught! Even though I tried to explain to him that no one gets perfect grades, mistakes happen and that's how we learn, and assured him that he had done a good job and we were proud, etc. etc., he just couldn't accept it. He was crying and saying "But I always get 100s! I ALWAYS get 100s!"

We have encouraged but never pressured him about his schoolwork, so I don't know where this perfectionism is coming from. I hate to see him put this kind of pressure on himself so early. I mean, if he freaks out about grades at age 6, what's it going to be like when he gets to college?

I guess I'm just looking for advice about how to help him relax about it. He's over the dreaded 92 by now, but I fear this is going to happen again the next time he gets a less than perfect score. Anyone been there and have words of wisdom?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Portland on

Sympathize with his feelings without trying to convince him he shouldn't be upset. Once he feels that his feelings are accepted, I suggest he'll calm down sooner. Accept that he'll get upset, let him be upset, and move on. This may be more about feeling accepted than it is about grades.

BTW First graders should never be given grades. This is the first I've heard of it being done.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Oh my! That's why MANY schools dont do number/letter grades in first grade
poor thing will have trouble with High school and college!
Try reading the article "How Not to Talk to Kids" (NY Times) and see if that helps you phrase your words differently. Teach him that getting a 100 on a test may mean he didnt learn anything (esp for a bright above grade level child) Never ask him about or let him involve you in a discussion about A's and 100's, ask him what he knew before the unit, or chapter or book and what he learned from the lessons. Encourage him to begin evaluating his own learning, asking questions about what did he learn today? Not what did the teacher teach but what did he not know before school that he knows now?? if he already knows the parts of a tree and gets a perfect score on labeling the parts of the tree, NO praise, tell him you are sad because he didnt learn anything new, and suggest you go get a book on trees with more facts! We learn from failure. We learn from hard work. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Our daughter could be the same.

WE told her, it is not the grades that matter to us. It is you doing your best that we care about.

As she got older we told her, I would rather you get a 70 in a hard class or subject, where you were really learning something and trying your best, than 100's on everything and not having to even try.

When she got what she considered a low grade.. we NEVER got mad. Instead we would ask her. Did you try your best? Do you understand why you got this grade? Do you need us to help you more? Do you need more help from the teacher?

We did not want her to think the grades were the most important thing. We also told her school was not a contest or a race, with winners or losers.. Grades, were just grades.

We did have one of her favorite teachers speak with her about grades.. and how they are just a way to see what they had learned and what they missed. That sometimes, the teachers realize that they were not explaining the subject well enough if the grades were not great.. Or they had missed a portion of the subject if a lot of people missed items on homework or tests.

FYI, Many colleges look to see what the classes and courses the student has taken all 4 years of high school, not just the grade. They would rather have a B or high C student taking advanced classes.. than an all A student taking not as challenging classes. They want students that are learning..
Not "know it all's. "

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Okay, so my daughter was like that, from Kindergarten. A perfectionist.
Her Teacher even noticed, and spoke to us about it.
My daughter, even in Kinder, would cry... if something was not perfect enough etc.
We knew that about her. But the TEACHER also talked with her about it, to help her ease up on that.

My daughter is now 9, and is no longer like that and is not all anal and a perfectionist. BUT... she is still, a VERY hard worker, per school and the quality of her work. She always tries her best... and that, is good enough for her now. Because she knows she does "her" best. It is now, not just about a number score. She has matured and in her knowing herself.
And she is STILL a great student, who does WELL and the Teacher's recognize that, in her. It is her work ethos and attitude, as well.

We taught my daughter... that the WORK ethic, is important... it is not only about a numbered score.
Because, even people who have NO education... can be remarkably, successful.

Also, at certain ages, some kids are "perfectionist" like. But it is a phase.
But still, talk with your son. My kids' Teachers, never emphasize perfectionism... but that the child, try "their best..." etc.

It will take time, for your son to learn this.

Teach your son, that even Einstein... made mistakes and was NOT perfect.
EVEN brilliant proven Geniuses... are not, perfect.
Being perfect also does NOT determine... the ability of a person.
And being smart or not... does not determine... the ability of a person either.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

my kids were given graded tests in first grade, like spelling, miss one word off the list and you have a 92% ( or what ever i'm bad at math)

I always told my son, that if he missed something on a test, or homework, GREAT that means now we ( his teacher and mom and dad) know now, what it is he is confused about and this gives us a chance to help him,
that might mean continuing to practice that tricky word or baking cookies so they got a better sense of measurement and what a teaspoon is in math.

( lol of course this doesn't work for the crappy no excuse for marking it wrong even if you really knew the right answer and jsut made a dumb mistake -- but even that i suppose you could learn from.


answers from Grand Forks on

Our school system doesn't grade elementary students. Academic performance indicators are Proficient, Acquired, or Developing. I guess it takes the pressure off performance.



answers from Chicago on

going through the same but my daughter is in 7th grade and I have tried and tried for years to get her to relax... now she gets so stressed i think she panicsand cries... i'm so lost.. its scary.. I hope you get some good advice,,,, try to nip in now.. it is not fun when they are older... good luck and I am thinking of you!!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions