A few weeks ago, I received an email from my daughter’s 5th grade teacher informing me that there would be an awards assembly the following week and my daughter would be getting an award. She would be getting an award on the Silver Honor Roll this time, instead of the Gold Honor Roll because she got a “B” in math. I was a little confused, because the day before, my daughter had been looking up her grades on Edline and noticed she had a “B” in Social Studies, but “A’s” in everything else. Oh well, same end results either way.

I know my daughter. She would not be happy with Silver Honor Roll. I am pausing here for a minute, because I am wondering just how crazy that sounds. There are kids who would be thrilled to get the kind of grades it takes to make the Silver Honor Roll. There are kids who would be thrilled to make the grades it takes to almost make the Silver Honor Roll (They don’t have Bronze at her school). But I knew she would be upset about this turn of events, so I prepared ahead of time how I was going to tell her. I wanted to prevent an emotional melt down. Stop laughing –I still believe they can occasionally be prevented–let me keep my fantasy!  So I started with the “Good News.”

When she came home from school that day this is what I said: “I got an email from your teacher today. She said there’s going to be an awards assembly next Thursday.” She immediately threw herself onto my bed and began sobbing hysterically. “But, you’re getting an award!” I offered.

“But I’m not (sob!) going to be (sob!) on the Gold Honor Roll!” More sobbing ensued.

“The Silver Honor Roll is still an honor! We’re very proud of you!”

“But now I can never be on the Platinum Honor Roll because of that “B” in Social Studies!” More sobbing.

“What’s the Platin–oh.”  I got it. The Platinum Honor Roll. You get that at the end of the school year if you’ve made the Gold Honor Roll the previous two trimesters. That little extra incentive for the student to keep their grades up consistently. “Wait a minute,” I remembered, “Your teacher said you got that “B” in Math, not Social Studies.”

“No, I saw it yesterday,” she responded, “I have an “A” in Math. The “B” is Social Studies.”

“Let’s Look it up.”

So look it up we did, and there it was: She had straight “A’s” in all of her subjects. I emailed her teacher asking about this. Her teacher responded with an apology, explaining that the “B” in Math was a typo from her math teacher, and she ended up giving my daughter one extra point in Social Studies which bumped her grade up to an “A.” So, she would be getting the Gold Honor Roll award after all.

When I told my husband about our little crisis, he just put his hand over his heart and said (almost tongue in cheek) “Well, thank GOD!”

I had to admit, deep inside, when my daughter was sobbing over not being on Gold Honor Roll, even though she was still going to be on the Silver Honor Roll, I felt a little bit proud and also strangely relieved. It looked to me that she might follow the academic path of her older sister, rather than her older brother. It won’t be likely that we’ll ever have to beg, plead and cajole homework assignments out of her.  At least she cares! On the other hand, we’ll need to find ways to help her realize it isn’t the end of the world if she does a “B” from time to time.

But how do we do this? How do we balance her intense reactions to what she perceives as failures, while still wanting to encourage her to keep her grades up?

Getting the Gold Honor Roll Award



20 thoughts on “Honor Roll Intensity

  1. With maturity, I’m sure that she’ll learn to handle a “B” grade. Feel lucky that her school has incentives and praises kids (gives awards) for hard/good work. My gifted daughter (same age) gets good grades, but could care less overall. At least your daugher cares; she’ll always strive to do her best, and will succeed. I worry about mine.

    1. I hope so! Her older sister went through a similar thing and she managed to survive getting B’s…and sometimes lower..but that’s for another post.

  2. I’m in college, studying pre-vet. There is a ton of pressure to keep a 4.0 to get into vet school (which is harder to get into then med school). My chemistry class has been so challenging this semester. The class as a whole has F averages on the tests, so I should feel proud of my C. But it’s taken me almost all semester to get over the fact that I won’t have a 4.) anymore, and there’s really nothing I can do to change it. The important thing is to do my best and learn the material, so I can do better is other courses. It’s hard to do, but you just have to learn to let go of perfection. A ‘C’ is average – I had to realize it’s okay to just be average in something.

    1. Good advice! I guess it takes a while to realize you don’t have to be “above average” every minute of your life. And well done on getting into veterinary school and on keeping your grades up to the best of your ability!

  3. I just read this to my daughter and it was extremely helpful. It wasn’t that it was about grades. It’s that the mom had to prepare how to say something to the kid because she knew an outburst might follow. It really hit home. Can you please write some more of these narratives. It would help a little girl not feel so alone. We sent it along to one friend who is also emotionally intense, but that is about it for our circle of friends.

    1. I’m glad to hear that helped. To be honest, if my daughter knew I wrote this article about her, there would be another outburst –which is why she NEVER know! 😉 Well, I didn’t post a link to it on my Facebook account. I have two other emotionally intense kids, so I might be able to come up with *something* for future posts. It’s funny, I’m not even sure my daughter is entirely aware that we often prepare in advance how we are going to tell her something. Or IS she? ;->

  4. I try to ask questions about how hard they’ve worked, how much effort did something take… and not ever bother with the “how did you do?” type of questions.

  5. I keep telling myself its good for them to learn the hard lessons (or at least be introduced to them) at a young age when they are still in a warm, nurturing environment. I think its much worse to face failure for the first time as a young adult in college. I try to think of one truth or principle to give them to hang on to for their future use alone. Best of luck to you; the perfectionism and drama that goes with it is very intense at my home as well.

    1. I am ashamed to say that I was a senior in high school and received a C on an essay for the first time and I, the little ridiculous valedictorian, wept. Very embarrassing. Every year, I vowed to not cry in school. I never made it. Even in grad school. Oh well. “I have other talents.” It’s my new mantra.

  6. @My Kids Mom:Good idea! For many, “How did you do?” might translate as, “Did you get the highest score?” rather than, “Did you get the best score that *you* could get?”

  7. Oh, that sounds familiar. Is it just for grades your daughter responds like this or other disappointments? My grade school daughter falls apart in tears over play dates that get canceled by the parent (“but, she promised!! “it’s not fair!!”), or when she doesn’t get the part in choir or school play she auditions for…and, everything else. It’s exhausting, everything is a battle, and I am in distress over it all being my fault the way she is…yes, my husband says that it is my fault for “coddling her” and for being stressed myself. We have a difficult family situation with her older sibling being non-verbal autistic who could hurt her and so things were never normal or fair around here. I’m searching for help…again. I feel somewhat relieved to see this emotional intensity could be related to giftedness…although, I never see this type of reaction from the other gifted kids in her classes towards their mothers…when the mother says it’s time to go, they go without any drama!

    1. How old is your daughter? My daughter won’t cry in school, for the most part, and saves it all up for ME. I really resent people who think that emotionality comes from coddling. Probably our daughters are better off though than the ones who hold it inside. The other option being a heart attack.

    2. Oh, yeah, everything. While we could say we might have “coddled” her too much, I don’t think that is the case. We also have 21-year old twins who are intense in their own ways, but not as explosive as she is. She doesn’t mind throwing a fit in public, while her older sister was at least to ashamed to that in public when she was the same age. To be fair, now that she is 11, she is MUCH better about things, but we still have work to do.

      Anyway, yeah, because we hadn’t experienced this with our older kids (though again, they could still be very emotionally intense), we were kind of at a lost as to how to handle it for a while. Christine’s book: “Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings” has helped us a lot with our youngest –and we wished it had existed when we were navigating school with our older kids too!

      And Tammy, I know what you mean -I look at the other kids and they seem so “Zen” compared to her reactions. It does get better. This book helped us, as did a couple of therapy visits –though that was mainly for an anxiety disorder that cropped up around 2nd or 3rd grade.

      1. hmm.. we have an anxiety disorder here in 2nd grade too. an age-related thing which comes with greater world awareness?

  8. My girl just turned 9 and we have an appt. for a therapist this week because she has developed plucking out her own hair! I’m feeling pretty depressed about this development…I’d never heard of Trichotillomania and it looks like this is what it is. 😦 She always had a bit of pulling on her eyebrows/lashes for years while reading/homework/t.v. watching, I thought it was a nervous habit like nail biting, but in the last month it escalated into bald patches on her head and hairline…it looks shaved and she doesn’t seem shocked by how it looks (even ‘tho she likes to dress fashionably)…she said, “maybe, I’ll start a new trend.” ?!

    1. You might take a look at Sensory Integration Disorder information. My daughter was sucking on her hair and her shirt till the whole shirt was wet. It was suggested to give her necklaces (lead free!) and bracelets to give her an outlet. Also those crush balls (stress balls) you can roll and squeeze in your hands to give her something to do while thinking. My daughter is one of those kids who is always sitting on her legs, never on her bottom. It’s good your daughter seems to have a sense of humor about her problem.

  9. BTW, I’m not what I would consider “gifted” but, I have always had a deep empathy to others suffering & questioning the universe & wondering what the point is when there is so much pain & unfairness…what I now understand could be “existential anxiety/depression”…I grew up in a dysfunctional family so I internalized all my feelings and developed a tougher outer skin to survive & so I appear aloof/unfeeling/cold a lot of the times because I had to be. So, I sometimes think it is better for my daughter to “take it out on me”, where she feels free to express, rather than hold it all in and have problems later on in life. It is just hard to deal with both girls vast needs when I feel so lost myself a lot of the time.

  10. thanks, I definitely know all about sensory issues with my other child who is low-functioning autistic (adopted)…but, nothing ever appeared “abnormal” with my gifted child during her babyhood or preschool years where it would’ve been immediately noticed & addressed.
    Just wanted to mention I found a flyer stuffed in my daughter’s messy backpack this morning about a SENG parent workshop for TONIGHT…husband came home early for some reason & I was able to attend…I just got back and James T. Webb was the speaker. I think I might call this fate…just wish I hadn’t been so oblivious to the ‘gifted world’ and the complexities there…been so long dealing with the ‘autistic world’. Can’t wait to get all the books I ordered in the mail (yes, Ms. Fonseca’s book, too).
    And, as intense as things get, my girl does have a kooky sense of humor & makes me laugh…thank god!

    1. Wow! Webb speaking! Lucky you.
      I’m not in the SENG world yet officially. Wonder if my girl will test as gifted. My IQ was high enough for it, but they use different measures today. You have to make a certain score on standards testing to be IQ tested. One friends kid was deselected because he lacked “motivation.” Which is the whole point of a gifted program! grrrr.

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