Many parents want their children to grow up to be successful and they try to provide them with opportunities they may have not had themselves. This can often mean having high expectations for their children. Having high expectations means that a parent is hoping for their child to improve or do better than they are currently doing. Parents may have high expectations for their children because they want them to be successful in the future and they may not know what it takes for a child to be successful.
This idea that children are not doing enough and are inadequate is a dangerous one that is not good for their growth and development.
These words are not motivating or encouraging for a child. This can make children feel like they are not good enough, which is dangerous. Remember that every child is doing the best they can in the situation they are in.
A child’s capability is not just based on their IQ. It includes other factors like how well they focus and manage their time. For example, a child might be good at math, but if they have trouble focusing, they might not do well in their math class. Another situation might be that a responsible and intelligent student is not doing well in their classes because they love to be on social media and play video games. In both these situations, the parents think their child can do better because they are intelligent, but they didn’t take into account the other limitations or distractions. As much as you wish a child didn’t have these other limitations or distractions, they do, and because of them, the child can’t do better.There are many reasons why a child could be intelligent but still not meeting your expectations. This could be due to not liking their teacher, or a lack of capability in another area of life that is impacting their grades or behavior.
The Quickest Way to Improve
There are two dominant ways to help people improve quickly, these are:
- Helping them understand themselves
- Letting them grow at their own pace
The effectiveness of both of these methods has been shown through many real-life examples. They are both logical in why they allow people to improve quickly.
The first way to help people develop quicker is to help them understand themselves. People will naturally develop quicker and do better when they are naturally good at something. They are also more likely to enjoy it, which will enable them to spend more time on it and then enable them to improve at it more rapidly than others. It seems like common sense that when you allow a fish to focus on swimming it will excel a lot more than if you try to teach it to fly or to run. The trick is giving them good support, but also enough freedom to figure out who they are.
There are two ways to help people develop: by accepting where they are and allowing them to progress naturally, or by providing a shortcut. The reason why it’s important to accept where people are is because of what it takes to develop. People can’t make big jumps, despite what people think. The example I like to give is learning math. When a student doesn’t understand the basic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, it is hard for them to do more complex things. If you tried to get someone to learn calculus and they didn’t know the basics, then it would not only be impossible, but they couldn’t advance at all. But if someone took the time to help them go step by step, they would eventually learn calculus and be able to advance to even more complex mathematics. This is the same way with helping students develop.Asking someone to learn Calculus when they don’t know any math is like asking them to climb a mountain without any training.
It is more difficult to raise a child because every individual is different and there is not a direct correlation between a child’s development and learning math. For example, Michael Phelps might never have been an Olympic gold medalist if someone had not realized he needed an activity to release his energy. Similarly, Bill Gates might have ended up very differently if his parents had not figured out he loved programming.
The Best Way to Help Your Child: Accept Them
The best way to help your child develop and become successful is by accepting them for who they are. This way requires the least amount of work and businesses have found it to be more effective than changing their employees. When businesses accept their employees, they work more effectively and develop quicker.
Thus, why wouldn’t you get rid of the expectations? There are a couple of reasons this is hard:
- You have to know where your child is at: Many times, parents don’t even know they have expectations of their children. They think their child is more advanced in something than they are.
- Lack of Information: In many cases, a parent might not know the detriment expectations have on a child. They have not researched human development and learned what will help their child the most.
- Lack of patience: Many times, having expectations is not only for the child but also for the parent. It is painful to watch a child who is “throwing their life away”. It is also painful to be around someone who is developing. When a person is developing, they think about themselves more, are less responsible, make more mistakes, cost more money, and require more time and attention. This can become tiring.
5 Things You Can Do to Accept Your Child
Here are five things a parent or leader can do to accept a child and not have high expectations:
- Observe and listen: The more you watch and listen to your child, the more you will realize who they are and the limitations they have.
- Get advice: If you have an issue with your child and feel like they should be doing better, talk with someone about it. Especially find someone who understands children and how they develop. Even talking with other parents can give you advice and more understanding of the situation.
- Get educated: The more you realize that expectations detriment your child, the easier it will be for you to minimize your expectations and try to find another way to help your child. Knowledge helps a person change.
- Do things with them: Sometimes it helps to not only observe and listen but to do something with your child. It will help you see how they operate, the issues they have, and what you can do to help them. How a child plays a video game, sport, or anything is how they perform in school or any other area in life.
- Work with them: This is the most difficult and you must know your child the most due to this, but make a plan with them. Discuss what is reasonable, how you can help them, what they think, and what they think is important. The important thing to remember is that you are looking for just the next step in improvement. It might not be in the area you want, but as long as you see improvement, it is a good direction.
Setting and Achieving High Expectations
Steven Covey came up with the phrase “begin with the end in mind”. What this means is that we should have a goal in mind for our children – in this case, that they will be happy and independent – and work towards that. Having specific goals, such as getting a college degree or having a fulfilling career, makes it more likely that we will achieve them.
Don’t Let Others Get You Down
Many of us have heard discouraging evaluations of our children’s potential from doctors, therapists, and teachers. We may also experience a lack of support from family members and friends who hint that we should lower our expectations. For example,when Kailee and I finished our meals at an event we were attending, I asked her to throw away both of our plates. I knew this would require her to ask someone where the trash can was. Others immediately intervened, offering to take it for her and looking at me as if I had two heads. Whether the discouragement is overt or subtle, we can’t let it interfere with our mission to empower children.
Learn How to Teach Your Child
Children with special needs can learn almost any skill with the right support from parents. Parents need to know how to teach – how to break skills down into smaller, teachable parts; change the environment and use visuals to support learning; model, prompt, and gradually shape skills, and provide reinforcement and correction. For example, if a parent wanted their child to learn to make their bed, they could attach felt squares with the numbers 1 and 2 to both the top corners of the bedspread and the child’s headboard. The child would simply have to match them to get the covers on right. The parent and child could practice daily, with the parent reminding and encouraging the child until they had it down. This way, the child would be able to make any bed, adding throw pillows and all, without depending on professionals to teach them.
Avoid Giving in and Giving Up
It is much harder to raise children that can do things for themselves than to do things for them. It is easier to give in to what they want than to make them do things that may be difficult for them. When my daughter was younger, she wanted to participate in sports such as cheerleading and soccer. Once practices would begin, however, she often found them challenging and would want to quit. I established the expectation that, if she began something, she would see the season through. I would work with the coach to support her and make modifications if necessary, but still, we stuck it out. Usually, she was successful and glad she stayed. I may get tired of this from time to time, but staying the course will determine my children’s future.
Celebrate Your Child’s Success
Celebrating our children’s successes, no matter how big or small, is important because it shows them that we are proud of their achievements and it fuels us as parents. Recently, we attended my nephew’s and his bride-to-be’s rehearsal dinner. The bridal party was delayed getting to the dinner, which caused us to wait for quite some time. Instead of becoming frustrated, Kailee decided to “work the room”. She went from table to table greeting all of the guests and chatting with them in a friendly and appropriate manner. I sat there in awe of the confident young woman she has become, and I knew I contributed to her success.
It is important that we have clear expectations for our children and that these expectations are realistic. Having realistic expectations for our children is a key factor in their success.