Setting Realistic Expectations for Your Child

I think in many ways, you reap what you sow. If you have high expectations for your children then they will strive to live up to those expectations. That is true for the reverse as well. If you do not expect much to come of your child, then there is a high chance that you will not get much from them. As a parent it is important when setting realistic expectations that they are just that, realistic and achievable.

setting realistic expectations

Remix / photo credit: tommyscapes via photopin cc

Setting Realistic Expectations for Your Child

Setting too high of expectations causes a lot of unnecessary stress on your child and sets them up for failure. When setting realistic expectations for you child, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Children are individuals and should be treated as such. They all have their own interests, weaknesses, strengths and talents. Your expectations should be based on their individual characteristics. Most children do not fit so neatly into the national average charts or develop all at the same rate. For instance, I have 5-year-old twins who will turn 6 in just a few days on October 28th. Ethan started being able to read last spring while still in preschool, Whereas Anna cannot read yet. I make it a point not to compare the two of them and say things to Anna, such as “Ethan is reading, why aren’t you?” They both learn at their own pace and Anna will get there. There are also things that Anna picks up much more quickly that Ethan. They just both have their strengths and weaknesses.

Remix / photo credit: wwarby via photopin cc

Remix / photo credit: wwarby via photopin cc

Try not to set your set your expectations based on your own strengths or weaknesses. For instance, math has always been my weakest subject. I should not assume my children are going to be bad at math as well. If I do invoke that type of expectation on my children, they will most likely live up to that expectation. Again, looking at your child as an individual, and in this case not an extension of yourself, will help you avoid setting low expectations based on your experiences.

You should be clear of what is expected of your child in his or her long-term goals, by setting achievable milestones along the way. For instance, if you expect your child to go to college one day then the milestones along the way would be maintaining good grades and completing homework along the way. It is important then to celebrate those milestone achievements and allow them to enjoy their successes. By celebrating their successes will help they realize that they can reach the expectations you have specified for them.

While your child strives to meet your expectations, it does not mean there will not be failure. It is important for your child to know that just because he fell short, he is not a failure. There is still progress made even if the goal was not completely reached. Your child should still be praised for the effort that was put forth and the achievements along the way.

There is something to be said for parents who set high expectations. It does encourage children to work hard for the things they want, and that working hard has its pay off. It also teaches them that it is okay to fail; it does not make them less of a person.

About the Author

I am a work from home mom who dearly loves her 15-year-old daughter, 11-year-old boy/girl twins, and husband. I love my life and feel very blessed by what God has provided for me.

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