Do not ask that your kids live up to your expectations. Let your kids be who they are, and your expectations will be in breathless pursuit. ~Robert Brault

All children strive to live up to their parent’s expectations. It’s where we as parents set the bar of our expectations for our children that guides them to work towards meeting them.

Expectations of parents tell children what’s important for them and what goals should they strive to achieve.

However, expectations can be double-edged swords. They can be a nudge to push children to bloom into the best they can become by yielding tremendous benefit in their growth or they can be the burdens that hamper our children’s growth, depending on what types of expectations you set for them.

Unfortunately, the rat race we parents sometimes indulge in to see our children on top of the world pushes us to set wrong expectations for our child.

Every child is unique and has his/ her own pace of learning/ growing/ achieving. Undue comparison of children is one thing I scoot away from. It can do no good for the child or our peace of mind.

In a world driven by results, success, victory, grades and pay-packages is allowing our children to not push their boundaries acceptable?

While it is advisable to always have high expectations from our children, I have my own views on how high is acceptable and beyond that exists only pressure and stress. Both for the parent and the child.

Encouraging, guiding and motivating the child to put in their best efforts is an important lesson, we as parents ought to teach our children. However, how we gauge the success or failure can always be based on an individual scale. Instead of being blinded by the ‘absolute’ grades of 100% we can assess our performance on the growth from past performances.

Setting humanly achievable goals, driven by the skill-set of our child is, in my opinion, the best way to formulate expectations that derive positive results from our children.

In today’s competitive world where everyone wants to ace the race, what are your expectations for your child?

Expectation in parenting

Here is mine for my pre-primary child :

I want Pari to do good in academics, be active in sports she loves and also have a hobby that she nurtures all year.

But is that possible with the burden of homework packed in bags of kids as young as 4 years old?

Not really.

My Action Plan To Help My Child Be The Best She Can Be:

This is what I usually do to help Pari understand what are my expectations for her:

I have Pari sit with me while I tell her what all falls in my definition of a good performance in the above fields. I try hard not to give her vague signals. She’s clear she is expected to practice what has been taught on the day, pay attention to her hand-writing, do neat work and also spare a few moments to revise what all she was taught in class.

While I sit with her to help her do the homework, we never talk about her peers’ work. Talk about her friends, their performance or what the teacher said is left for our chit-chat times. I try my best to make her see we are not aiming to be the best in class, but being the best we can be.

 This strategy often leaves me wondering whether I’m doing it right? Am I motivating my child enough to be who she can be?

That’s when I keep a check on what her teachers at school expect from her. It guides me about how Pari is performing with the hard work we invest in every day.

There are countless occasions when Pari gives up midway and insists she doesn’t want to do her homework or wants to watch the cartoon when I want her to study. Depending on the situation, like if there’s a class-test the following day, I agree or disagree with her proposed plan. That’s when I put my reward system at play. I play her competitor. I ask her to finish her homework before I read say 25 more pages of the book in hand or am done with cooking dinner and she gets to watch a cartoon. Surprisingly 95% times it works, though not without a catch.

The catch being, around bed-time almost always Pari tells me that she had noted how I had tricked her into finishing her school-work. Though I can’t help but chuckle, I then try to distract her by telling her how far we’ve come cause of this fun-racing-strategy.

The hobby that Pari always makes time for is dancing (even if for 15 to 20 minutes during school days) and reading. For reading, besides being read a story or two at bed-time, she loves going through the pictures in her storybooks on her own before I tell her the story. Then she tells me what all she had imagined differently. It’s fun, a thought-provoking exercise and often makes me see a lot of things with a different perspective.

What about sports? While I encourage my child to exercise with me and we enjoy racing and playing together the one thing that has really worked well is the trampoline I bought a few months back. As a student, I was never a dedicated sports person. Though I went ahead to play Badminton at district level before giving it up under the load to invest every minute studying hard. This is one thing I want to do differently with my child.

The one thing that I think works well at times when Pari is de-motivated is helping her imagine her future self. Though what she aspires to keeps changing depending on her mood, but it gifts me the opportunity to show her how far she has come in one year. A child who had me worry about how poor she was in writing her alphabets in Hindi, made me proud by winning first prize in the Hindi writing competition held 6 months later.

It’s achievements like these that act like a pole star, giving us both a sign that maybe we’re not lost and we’ll reach where we ought to be without undue pressure.

And our lives continue, expectations rise higher, but one thing remains, our disciplined, consistent approach, our faith that with persistence we’ll make it and hope that our hard-work shall never go unrewarded.

What’s your strategy to help your child meet your expectations?

How conscious are you about the need to push your children to become achievers?

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* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge. My theme is Parenting.

Please find my other posts here.


67 thoughts on “Expectations

  1. lgkeltner

    This is so true! I have two kids, and I want them to try their best in school and be kind to other people. I do my best to help them participate more in the kinds of activities they enjoy. I know I’m not a perfect parent, but I do my best!


    1. Welcome lgkeltner 🙂
      As long as we’re helping our children participate in all the activities they enjoy, nurturing their talent and motivating to be the best they can be, I think we’re doing great as parents.
      The good news is, perfect parents are a myth 😀
      Love the idea of encouraging our children of being kind at heart 🙂


  2. My oldest grandchild is almost 18 so my children are grown. I never did as much work with a 4 year old as you detail above. I taught them all to read before they started school and we did lots of unorganized things together. Things have changed so much over the years.


    1. The truth is that I have put to words things I believe every parent (or grand-parent) does around children of my child’s age, that’s making it look like I’m doing anything extra. The reality being, it’s just the usual stuff my parents did when I was a child and I believe you’ve been doing with your children and grand-children too 🙂
      Just some fancy terms here and there but parenting as an art hasn’t changed much 😀
      Thank you Kristin for stopping by and sharing your personal experience 🙂


  3. Sometimes there’s a fine line between wanting our kids to live up to our expectations and living vicariously through them, I am guilty of the latter. I want my kids to have everything I couldn’t especially in terms of an education. I hold myself back sometimes when I know I am forcing my expectations on them. Look at your child’s talents is best just like how you are doing now. You are nurturing her belief in herself and her capabilities. Truly a wonderful MAMA!


    1. I think every parent (whether they admit or not) is guilty of having pushed their children to have what they themselves couldn’t have. I’m no exception. I want my child to have the best of everything too, but before any of it or along with laying a foundation of it all I want to sow seeds of being an open-minded individual to her be an independent, confident person as she grows up.
      The reality is, it’s just the way I write that hides my shortcomings and puts in good light, else, I am a very confused parent 😀


  4. Every parent has at least a few expectations from their kid. And the ones which listed from Pari made me so happy and content. Maybe, I should be learning a lot of things from you. May be I would be wanting the same from my kid too, when I have. God bless you both. Love to Pari ❤


    1. That is really very sweet of you to say Shalzzz but I’m sure you’d like to re-frame your opinion by the time this A to Z challenge ends and I have opened all cards of my struggles in this role 🙂


  5. I guess that you’re right in encouraging Pari to be the best that she can be. Comparing her with other kids won’t do anything but demotivate her. It will just lower her self-esteem, as I can say from my own experience.

    The result of motivating people that they can be better than their best is, that one day, they themselves will see that there are people better than them, and that will motivate them to work hard. It won’t make them bitter. It will give a positive reassurance. And it encourages healthy competition! 🙂


    1. It is always a pleasure connecting with other parents. I’d love to stay in touch so that we can share our experiences and learn something new every time.
      Thank you so much dear 🙂


  6. I like your parenting style, M.E. It’s something I want to do too when the time comes. It’s important to not force expectations or put pressure on children to compete against peers, I feel. It’s what drives them to be ‘like X’ instead of ‘the best them’. 🙂


    1. Drawing comparisons is something that comes very easy once you have school going kids. But, understanding the damage it does to the young minds early on, and avoiding it is the best.
      Thank you so much Vinay 🙂


  7. You are so right when you say expectations are double-edged swords. It is tough and more so in today’s times for both kids and parents to keep up and live with expectations. Add to it woes of peer pressure…too much! Balancing expectations and yet be motivating is no easy chore. I appreciate what you are doing here with Pari. Thanks for sharing this insightful post.
    @KalaRavi16 from


    1. That’s so true Kala that not just the kids but also their parents find it tough to avoid drawing comparisons with the peers and the result is total mayhem. The more sorted out we are as parents, the easier it is for our children to understand our expectations early on.
      I think keeping it simple works here too.
      Thank you Kala for sharing your perspective 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. RamyaRao

    Wow. Brilliant mother you are. Lucky Pari. My parents did have expectations from me and I fulfilled them too. But I have aspirations for myself which they did encourage but never really understood completely. Your post is a must read. Sharing it. 😃


    1. I think it’s the same for all of our generation. Our parents have been very caring and loving but somewhere deep within we’ve craved to be understood better and wished to be on our own.
      Thank you for sharing & all the love Ramya 🙂


    1. But the temptation to do so is really high. Resisting it often becomes a herculean task in the age of social networking sites. But, if we can avoid it, there’s nothing like it 🙂


  9. This is such a meaningful post buddy and since my son is the same age as Pari I second your opinion..Putting too mucg pressure on kids is known to have backfired in more number of times than not….


  10. “Setting humanly achievable goals, driven by the skill-set of our child is in my opinion the best way to formulate expectations that derive positive results from our children.

    In today’s competitive world where everyone wants to ace the race, what are your expectations from your child?”

    A good perspective, and a good question, not just about children, but about ourselves, too. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.


  11. My expectations for my children are not to push them too far in directions that they would rather not be. Both my girls enjoy dancing and attend weekly dance classes, which I intend to encourage for as long as the children want to do them. If either of my daughters shows particular interest in a subject or sport, then I and my husband will do our best to facilitate ongoing development. Otherwise, I want them to grow up feeling free of the weight of responsibility that we pile upon ourselves.


    1. Love your approach Catherine 🙂
      My daughter loves dancing and I’m planning to enroll her in a dance class this summer. Helping children have a hobby or pursue an art-form helps them grow into wonderful, balanced human beings 😀
      Thank you for sharing your valuable experiences 🙂


  12. I do sometimes compare my son with others but only to make him realise that he cannot use his age, inability or boredom as an excuse.

    I do give him incentives when he doesn’t want to study but have now started to nudge him to realise his own interest and need to do it. Pushing a bit is ok if helps him grow.

    I don’t make him do things he has no liking for, so dancing is out of question.


    1. That’s a great way of using comparison to inculcate positive outlook in children 🙂
      True, every child is unique and needs a tailor-made approach to help him be the best he/she can be.


  13. Novemberschild

    Having children can be incredibly rewarding or a pain in the you-know-what, depending on the situation. I know there are those who say that parenting is always wonderful. I think we all know they’re lying. Our children mess up. They lie to us, they’re sneaky, they don’t listen and they know how to push all the wrong buttons. I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. It’s natural to want your children to study hard and breeze through but children learn things differently. It’s our job to guide them, not punish them because they may have a harder time learning. We’re not perfect at work — at most jobs, it’s not expected. School is our children’s form of “work” until they go out into the world.We have to let our kids be kids, not perfect robots. They’re going to mess up — that’s life. Our job is to guide them and be there for them. If a situation requires discipline, then by all means do what needs to be done.


  14. I really like your approach especially where you try to bring out the best in Pari instead of making her even think about competing with others. That’s really commendable!


  15. It is the assurance that we have to give them that we will stand by them always come what may…After all they know only us in this world yet and giving our shoulders to them is more important than expectations..


  16. Though I admit that I push Sri sometimes at the bottom of my heart I want her to grow up as a good human to respect self and others. I am sorry ME.. Like I said before kids is my favorite topic and I am not able to stop literally…sorry ma for spamming your comments section.


    1. Every parent is guilty of pushing our children at some point or the other and I think parenting all about pushing the boundaries and modifying rules to meet child’s individual requirements.
      Your views and experiences are most welcome on my blog. Please don’t apologize and rant on 😀


  17. inquisitivegeet

    Awww, that is so sweet of you. The way you’re working this out with your daughter looks perfect. And expectations can really play with a child’s mind. I’ve been there. Too many expectations only result in frustrations.

    And the way you trick her into doing her homework, made me reminisce of my childhood days 🙂



    1. It’s tough on the child if the expectations from him/her are unrealistic and stressful for the parent when the child refuses to work hard to go that extra mile.
      Somewhere in the middle lies the balance that I believe all parents spend their entire lives trying to reach.
      Thank you Geetika 🙂


  18. 2 AM Writer

    I’ve read all your posts so far and seriously, you are open minded and composed as a person, the ability to apply logic to parenting rather than simply participating in the rat race of making your kid better than *enter other kids name*

    Love, 2 AM Writer


    1. Thank you Maggie for taking time to read through my posts and for your sweet note of appreciation 🙂
      I have had a confused childhood where I couldn’t understand why I was doing whatever I did, that’s why when I became a parent, I was left with no choice but to use my own mind in everything I had to do 🙂


  19. inGeniousty

    I do agree with this blog. Do not set expectations for anyone. As a kid let them choose whatever field they want to grow in. As a parent it’s our duty to guide them to a right channel that will help them improve themselves in future. 🙂 We as a parent shouldn’t set our expectations on them. We should be just a support structure after all we can only help them stand, but it’s on their hand to excel and succeed in life through their own efforts.

    E- Power of Expectation


  20. Yes, expectations are what cause all the trouble! I try to not compare but sometimes I go overboard with the pushing. So I let my child set the pace. We are fine with what he likes.


    1. We’ve all been there done that and at times we still fail even now. As long as we have the picture of our expectations from our children clear in our own minds, we’ll be able to help them use their talent and energy constructively 🙂
      Thank you for sharing your views.


  21. Shilpa Garg

    I believe in helping the child do his best and realize his potential. Comparing with others or expecting certain percentage is not something that we do. Each child is different so you just cant expect same results from them.


  22. ‘Expectations’ can be a very tricky subject in parenting. And you have given it due detailing. Kudos for that.
    I think if parents don’t try to fulfill their own dreams through their children and try to understand the child’s interests, it makes for the right start.



  23. Expectations as a double-edged sword, oh yes Era! I so love how you explained it especially on how you do it with your kid.
    I’ve been a teacher for over a year and have witnessed how a mom pushed her child hard to be the number 1 in class, always. Her child is drained, but she keeps on pushing herself. She really is a top notcher. Though, the downside is that her child expects herself to be always at the top, in any aspect of life. She is bossy, controlling and envious. she somehow explains how expectations can be a double-edged sword. 🙂


    1. Rosema every parent secretly wishes for their children to ace the race. But you have to learn to take it easy, train them, motivate them, guide them and after they’ve invested their best, be ready to celebrate whatever the outcome. Pushing beyond this point is nothing short of cruelty and our precious children don’t deserve it.
      Thank you for sharing your valuable experience. It makes a lot of sense when seen from a third person’s view.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Spot on Nimi 🙂
    The idea of realizing our dreams through our children is the root cause of unrealistic expectations and the beginning of disagreements between children and parents. If this is avoided, growing up years can be pretty stress free both for the child and the parent.


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