Simple Tips to Setting Realistic Expectations for Your Child
Summer is nearly over, and a new school year is just ahead and all the responsibilities that come with it. As parents, we feel a tremendous responsibility to ensure our children succeed. Certainly, by expecting more, our children will accomplish more. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. When do our high expectations cross the territory of negativity and demotivation? How do we find the right balance?
Susan Heid, author of Become the Confident Mom You’ve Always Wanted to Be, shares some common-sense tips we’ve adapted that can work for every parent:
Start with your child. Each child is unique with his/her own strengths and weaknesses, talents and interests. Parenting is only one part of the equation. All too often, we fall victim to what we think is “normal” for an age and grade level without considering the individual child.
Forget your own childhood. Parents can be acutely aware of the challenges they faced growing up and project those on their children. Be careful of what you might be conveying in terms of fear or expectations that have nothing to do with your child but everything to do with you.
Clarity and consistency are key. Simply stating an end goal can be overwhelming. Talk with your child about the reasoning behind your expectations and the positive impact you see for their life ahead. Then work with him/her to break down the path to get there and how they can meet short-term milestones. Be ready to celebrate and encourage along the way.
Everything is a learning experience. All too often, we treat life and goals as a pass-fail proposition. Unfortunately, the result is often discouragement and the reluctance to stretch. Arguably, our children will learn more when something is a challenge than when they achieve it on the first try. Be ready to engage positively at times when your child doesn’t accomplish a goal, and use those opportunities to help teach how we often “fail forward” to success. This may be a perfect time to share a similar experience you had and how you became stronger in the process.