Home Consistency What happens when a child has developed wrong habits for a very long time
Rebuilding self confidence

What happens when a child has developed wrong habits for a very long time

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How one comment can demolish her confidence…

And the effort parents and tutors took to rebuild it

Some time ago, a student shared with me about her previous tutor.

“You cannot understand the concepts I taught you.”

“Your learning is very slow. You are not good for science.”

What do those words mean to her?

It destroys her self-confidence.

She is utterly discouraged…

She has given up on science.

Her parents heard of us and decided to let us do the guidance.


There is 
a lot of work!

When she first joined our classes, I discovered (to my horror) her learning techniques are completely wrong!

“Teacher Andy, does learning these concepts get me 60 marks?”
“Teacher Andy, is photosynthesis commonly tested in the exam?”

She should not relate learning a concept to securing marks.

Instead, she should focus on the scientific process.

She did not get it.

I then ask these questions to compel her to think another way.

“What is this part of the question trying to tell you? What science concepts are related?”

Again, she could not understand…

Sensing the seriousness of the problem, I gave her parents my feedback and ask them to actively encourage her to adopt this learning approach.

The parents see the problem and take remedial actions. They guide their child by asking questions to stimulate her thinking process.

By the way, I don’t give much homework for my students but for this child, I gave her many revision worksheets.

I need her to adopt the right approach FAST

Initial results were discouraging. She continues to do badly in her homework (many wrong answers) and starts feeling depressed.

Still, her parents and I continue to encourage her.

I reminded her the bad habits are deeply ingrained. It takes time to wean them off and adopt a new one.

Thankfully, her parents are supportive and understand her problems need time to resolve (longer than both of us expected).

Over time, as she slowly ditches the bad approach and picks up the correct techniques, I can see her thinking process has started to improve.

I quickly seized on that minor improvement and praise her!

At this crucial juncture, parents should also praise their child as this will greatly encourage her to learn the correct approach.

Gradually, her habits change and she starts asking the correct questions.

Needless to say, she has shown remarkable improvement in her exam results (after 5 months).

What can we learn about her learning journey?

1) The student has started off by admitting her mistakes and has the strong will to learn new techniques again.

2) Supportive parents who understood their child’s problems and take actions to support their child.
Sometimes, the parents need to change their approach to guiding their child.

3) Patience is key. Some tuition centres are selling miracle pills.

We don’t do that.

The only “miracle pill” we are selling is to work on the correct approach consistently. As her bad habits are so deeply ingrained, she has the additional job of removing that bad habits and take on a new one.

Having said that, I have seen students who show a remarkable improvement in a very short period of time.

4) Some children learn quickly while others are slower. That is alright so long as they are working hard to reach the same competitive level as their peers.

5) Don’t spout negative comments.

This cannot be said for all children. In many cases, a healthy dose of tough love is needed. Criticise their behaviour to change their attitude. If that is too much for your child, try the softer approach.

6) Get the correct techniques right. We might not be aware of it but some bad habits are so deeply ingrained that it becomes very difficult to change. A strong willpower and encouragement from peers are needed to wean off the bad habit, permanently.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find something useful from this blog post.

Master the scientific process right away.

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