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 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 from 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 from your child?
Here are mine from 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?
Then what is my general plan of action to show her what are my expectations from her?
This is what I usually do:
- 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 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.
- But 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 after 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 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 to 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 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, but 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 story books 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 be 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 may be 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?
* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge 2016. My theme is Parenting.
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