2019 Jan 23: Parental Expectations

When considering our children’s abilities, sometimes it is difficult to determine what their level of performance or success should or will be as they grow and develop. Being a parent of two very different sons, I sometimes struggled to avoid comparisons with both academic and athletic skills. On one hand I wanted/expected high levels in both areas, but on the other hand I knew there were limitations due to their specific abilities.

How important is it to have high expectations for our school aged children? According to a number of specialists it is extremely important to set expectations that are high, but reachable for our children. This is true not only at school, but also at home. Sometimes parents tend to set expectations too high, and their children see themselves as failures and find ways not to perform whether it is in the classroom or in athletics. However, if expectations are too low, our children tend to become bored, uninterested and/or lazy.

Expectations are, and should be, different for each child depending on their abilities. An exceptional athlete who is bored in a P.E. class can still make a good grade, but not reach his or her full potential by not being challenged. However, a student who has difficulty reading will struggle to pass the STARR Reading test due to the standard being too high or out of reach. Neither of these students can be experience their unique level of success due to the inaccurate expectations set for them.

There are many ways parents can provide high but reasonable expectations for their children. First, expect the best from your child keeping in mind his or her abilities and interests. Second, ask children what they expect from themselves, so they can verbalize or say how well they can perform a skill or task. Also, encourage your child to tackle subjects and hobbies that are challenging, but not above their ability levels. Finally, be sure to work with them by spending valuable time helping them to develop confidence and skills to be successful. Parents should always remember to tell their children when they do something well, and avoid being overly negative when they make a mistake or their performance does not meet their expectations.