Just Do Your Best: Top 4 Dos on Setting Realistic Expectations for Your Children
Over the years, studies on standards, expectations and performance continue to show that, parents who set good expectations for their children, often help to improve their performance. When you set benchmarks for your child’s behaviour and academic performance, he is bound to feel propelled toward attaining these benchmarks. Here are some tips on setting realistic standards for your child:
1. Do Weigh His Strongholds and Weak Areas
To set the bar for your child, you must really understand his strong points and his weak ones. But, you must set expectation for both his strong and weak areas. For example, if he is very good at English, then this is an area that you want to zero in on. You want to set a specific standard with regard to his performance in English. For example, you could say, “I am expecting an A from you in English; the least should be a B.” If your child is not very good at Biology, it does not mean that you should expect an F from him; you could start with something achievable but something that will make him want to perform better. For example, you could say, “Bob, you are scoring D’s in Biology, I am expecting you to study smart and attain at least a C in your next test.”
2. Do Not make it About You
In stipulating expectations for their children, some parents can become obsessed with a specific result and with performance. When you insist that your child must perform well in the music club so she can become a professional orchestra performer when she is not interested in pursuing music as a career, you are making it about you. Setting expectations is about helping and encouraging your child to improve his performance in those things that are most important. It is not always easy to draw the line between wanting the best for your child and wanting the best for you through your child. Nevertheless, ask yourself whether your obsession with specific results is helping your child’s performance.
3. Do Make Your Expectations Specific
You cannot afford to be vague with your expectations and standards. You will receive vague results. Instead of saying, “Sally, just do your best in Mathematics class,” you want to be more specific and say, “Sally, I am expecting a B from you in the upcoming Mathematics test. I know you will put enough effort toward this.” Children, like adults, want to know what exactly is expected of them so they can devise techniques of attaining these goals or expectations. When your child understands what exactly you expect from him academically, he will put more hours in studying, he may seek tuition, he may start paying more attention in class and cooperating with his teachers. The same applies when you set clear behavioural expectations.
4. Do Make Necessary Adjustments
Things change. Sometimes, your expectations may have to change. This does not mean you need to constantly change your standards; it means being cognizant of circumstances that may inhibit your child from achieving a certain goal. Your son may be suffering from a throat infection, so he may not be able to project his voice and perform as well as he would have in the national debate contest. You cannot expect that he come first against all odds; you might have to be realistic about your expectation and live with the idea that he might take second or third place. However, emphasize to him that in subsequent debate contests you still have high expectations for him.