By Michael G. Rayel, MD
Expectations abound everywhere. At work, we are expected to perform various tasks, to cooperate with colleagues, and to finish a project. In school, we are expected to study and read our homework. There are no relationships, affiliations, or associations where expectations don't exist.
Homes should have bountiful expectations to prosper and remain strong. Parents are expected to provide safety, food, clothing, comfort, and love in their homes. Likewise, children are expected to do certain chores, go to school and complete homework, and to respect and love their parents and each other.
Create a List of Expectations
As the head of your household, you should let your children know what is expected of them. Create a list of expectations in various settings and situations. Expectations at home such as dealing with homework and chores and interacting with friends and strangers should be clearly stipulated for your children's benefit.
Moreover, expected behaviour in social gatherings should be clarified early on. Explain in detail the appropriate behaviour when in church, at a restaurant, or in any public places. Show them how to behave around elders, strangers, friends, siblings, and people in authority.
Expectations Should be Consistent
Expectations should be consistent and should not change depending upon your mood or that of your child. Your expectations should remain regardless of your child's interest or motivation. Just because your child has received an award does not give him or her the freedom to violate curfew.
Changes in your children's circumstances should not change your expectations. If your children have no school, it should not give them the unrestricted permission to stay overnight with friends, watch TV ten hours a day, or surf the internet as if there is no tomorrow.
Likewise, your expectations should not change frequently because of your changing circumstances as a parent. For example, you may experience guilt feelings due to prolonged work-related absences from your household. Don't lower your expectations simply because you're not there all the time.
Expectations Should be Reasonable
Your expectations should not be unrealistic that nobody can consistently achieve them. Too high or too low an expectation invites a below-average result from your child. Expectations should occupy the middle ground and should be age-appropriate. For example, don't expect your three old daughter to clean her room "spotless" or for your five year old son to wash the dishes. However, you can expect them to clean up after play or to put dirty dishes in the sink. Moreover, you can expect your older children to make their beds, to wash dishes, and to do homework on a regular basis.
Expectations Should be Positive
Expect your child to say and do positive things. Expect the best that your child can perform and achieve. Expectations are self-fulfilling. With positive expectations, it's likely to attain positive results.
In my clinic, I've seen individuals who as children were frequently told that they would never amount to anything. As adults, they ended up unemployed and using street drugs. Some of them ended up divorced and homeless. It became clear that negative labels imposed on them by their own parents changed their lives in destructive ways.
Establish a positive culture in your household instead. Focus on the positive. Encourage a hopeful and optimistic outlook on life. Dwell on constructive and helpful endeavours. Talk about positive personalities, life stories, and events. Be a positive parent!
Expectations Should Focus on Success
Since expectations are self-fulfilling, expect your children to do well in all things. Expect them to attain their full potential through self-discipline, effort, perseverance, and determination. Expecting your children to succeed is your best gift.
Expect them also to take the necessary actions to fulfill the expectations. Expectation alone without effort will not work. Furthermore, when you have positive expectations, provide your child with the necessary tools to achieve them. For instance, if you expect your child to clean the living room, make sure that your house has a vacuum cleaner. Similarly, don't expect your child to do well in school if you don't provide appropriate supervision and guidance.
Can expectations be harmful?
You can choose what to expect from your child. And I assure you that you will get what you expect. Positive expectations are likely to produce positive outcomes. On the other hand, negative expectations are likely to bring forth negative results. This is the law of nature.
In many respects, there is no need to be too specific when expecting about the future. Of course, expecting a child to become the president of United States or the prime minister of Canada is unrealistic and is inviting frustration.
When talking about the future, expect only the best - that great possibilities are coming. In so doing, you create hope and stimulate ambition. You also encourage your child to have big dreams.
Positive and reasonable expectations serve to provide guidance, create faith, establish hope, and promote self-confidence.
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