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Bright Minds, Poor Grades: Understanding and Motivating your Underachieving Child Paperback – July 1, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael D. Whitley, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in Houston, Texas. His clinic specializes in motivational difficulties and behavior problems of children, adolescents, and adults.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Books; First edition (July 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399527052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399527050
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 81 people found the following review helpful By F.L.M. on August 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
I agree with many of the favorable and critical comments made in the previous reviews but I would like to fill in some gaps.
Whitley offers an excellent program for developing a consistently compassionate relationship with your underachiever. Addressing underachievement is difficult because it requires parents, teachers, and counselors to confront their behavior as well. But, Whitley does not blame parents. Ultimately, underachievers are responsible for themselves, and this is the key developmental lesson they have failed to learn. Whitley emphasizes underachievers' dependence on the very people who have tried to help them--their teachers, counselors, and, of course, parents--even as they yearn for independence. Underachievers fail because they haven't really learned how to be independent. As a result, tutors, grounding, bribing, rewarding, only reinforce, rather than resolve, underachievement. Underachievers have learned to depend on other people to help them complete their work, to turn in their assignments, to remember their assignments, and so on, to such a degree that they cannot even define their independence. This is why Whitley's program is effective. It requires parents to step back without becoming distant, to show their child they are willing to trust her, to allow her to state her own goals, and give her a chance to fulfill her goals on her own terms. If she cannot do so, then the parents will intervene and help her. Whitley's ten-step program is wise, practical, and compassionate.
Now, this is where the book's limitations become apparent. Whitley addresses parents whose kids "get it," who want to do well but can't function in a way that achieves the desired results.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked up Dr. Whitley's book last summer (2001) and once I started reading, I could not put it down. I bought it and read it twice over the weekend. It was be best book I had ever read on kids, and believe me, I've read plenty. At that time, my daughter was in the 10th grade and was in trouble and making noises about droping out of school. It was uncanny reading Dr. Whitley's book, for what I had been going through with my daughter since the sixth grade was on every page, including all my mistakes and the misguided advice we had gotten to help her that usually only made things worse. I tried highlighting the useful information, but I wound up highlighting entire pages of this book. Before reading Dr. Whitley's book, I had tried everything else to help my daugher, from family and individual counseling to tutoring, rewards and punishments, supervision and just leaving her alone, to groundings, special education, various medications, and endless teacher conferences. I had read other books about kids and underachievement and adolescent troubles. Nothing worked, and in the meantime, while my daughters grades went from As in grade school to flunking four classes in her tenth grade year, her depression increased and I felt I was losing her; and just as importantly, the tensions between my wife and I were increasing. Dr. Whitley's approach made sense; it was clear, precise and sensible and offered hope.
I used his approach religiously. It was not magic, but I applied the ten steps he talks about. I gave up on groundings and punishments and took a positive approach he advises. My wife and I actually came together as we used his approach. I used the ten steps he advises over and over again until I actually dreamed about it.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book for the parents of G/T students who are not bringing home the great grades they are capable of making. I have a 12 year old who tests in the 99 percentile on acheivement tests, is a Duke Tip student that received state recognition for his SAT scores as a 7th grader. His grades were C's, D's and F's. His teachers wanted him out of G/T classes but the Counselor and Principal realized that he would do worse in regular classes since G/T classes allow students to be more creative but-- this requires independence on the students part. His problems are with being independent and reponsible for his grades. This book has been amazing in helping us teach our child to be independent. Type A children are independent and competitive naturally. We must teach our Type B (but bright) children these skills. A must for parents everywhere who have bright kids with poor grades. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Julie Berry on October 14, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My fifth grade son was showing every sign of classic underachievement. He had had a fourth grade teacher that made him feel like a complete failure, and he took that lesson to heart. His fifth grade year was littered with missing assignments, half-completed work, lies about schoolwork, and an overall horrible attitude. I felt like I was losing my child at the age of 11.
We tried the usual (punishment, lectures, etc.) to no avail. I bought this book, read it and implemented it to the best of my ability. It was counterintuitive to me (no punishment for bad behavior?) but I'm so thankful I went against my intuition.
It proceeded about like he described: two months of not a lot of progress, then the tide began to turn. The turning of the tide, however, corresponded to the end of the school year. He moved from elementary school to middle school, and is doing quite well. He's getting A's and B's in the honor program, is excited about school, and confident of his ability to succeed.
My only complaint about the book is that there aren't a lot of "success" stories included.
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