From: http://www.raisesmartkid.com/all-ages/1-articles/47-authoritarian-strict-parenting-vs-permissive-which-is-better

Do not impress on your child that mediocrity and average success is all that is expected from him.

My child is 2 years 4 months old. I don't know whether she will top her class or not. I definitely do not want her to fail, but at the same time I do not "expect" her to top the class. This means that it is okay is she tops and it is okay if she doesn't.

I just want to ensure that she understands what she does in classwork and homework.

How should I act such that child doesn't feel average success and mediocrity is expected of her?

P.S. In 10th and 12th grades, percentage does matter, so there she will have to work hard even if she doesn't want to.

  • 2
    Reward effort, not success. There's nothing wrong with failure if enough effort was made.
    – DanBeale
    Oct 28, 2015 at 13:19
  • 1
    Face it: On average, people have average success. If your child goes to a class with 25 children, 24 are not going to be top of the class.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 4, 2015 at 22:14

2 Answers 2


The healthiest way is to encourage your daughter to do her best to reach the fullness of her own potential, without regard to her peers. That means "average success and mediocrity" isn't defined by what my typical peer can do today, it's defined by what I can do today. If I'm not better tomorrow than I was yesterday, by whatever measures I personally value, I'm failing.

I'll give you a recent example with my kids. My eight-year-old son reads at around a 10 or 11 year-old level. A few weeks ago, I caught him checking out a first grade level book from the library. These are books his little sister is struggling with at the moment, and he thought we would be impressed with how much better he could read them than she could.

Instead, we told him if he wanted to impress us, he should do something that is just as difficult for him as reading level 1 books is for her. We didn't pressure him about it, or force him to choose one specific thing, or punish him for not doing it, but we didn't praise him for excelling at a mediocre task either.

  • 2
    The last sentence hits the nail on the head...
    – Stephie
    Oct 29, 2015 at 17:55

I don't have a child, but I was one and my parents apparently did succeed with their approach (as I am currently studying for my PhD).

There were mainly two things they taught me:

1) It sounds old, but you do not learn for grades or earn grades for parents. You learn for life. You can show children, that sometimes you don't see the effect while you work, but in the long run you will. And also, learning teaches you to learn. You might not need the topic you are struggling with in later life, but you will need the ability to struggle and win.

2) Praise her when she does good in things she likes to do. This is how she will find her path in life. And of course, because she likes to do them, there will be plenty of options for you to praise her. Console her when she fails in something she does not like to do. She might need it, but instead of telling her "You need good grades! Work harder!" tell her "I have also failed sometimes. I know you hate this topic. We will try and make it more fun. You won't be alone in trying to master it against the odds." Especially in young age, learning still should be somewhat fun. (I actually try making learning fun even for the university students I teach. Because wanting to have fun never ends. And if you choose something for the rest of your life, you should be able to have at least some fun doing it.)

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