What expectations do you have for your children? Do you hope for the best? Do you assume that because they have not been doing something successfully that they can’t do it? Do you throw your hands up in frustration with the resignation that “kids will be kids?” You don’t have to adopt this passive approach to parenting. Set behavioral expectations and goals for your children and parent them toward that goal.
Let’s look at few examples. If spitting at the table is not acceptable for an 18 month old, then we cannot consider it “cute” for an 8 month old to do this very same act. Or if it is your expectation that your 5 year old will make his bed each morning, start when he is small. Have your toddler toss his blankets and pillow into his crib each morning. You want to keep those eventual behavioral goals in mind for your children and parent them in such a way that those goals are achievable.
This type of mindset will help us to parent “as if.”
Parent as if . . . you are in public.
Parent as if . . . you are eating at a friend’s house.
Parent as if . . . that couch your child is jumping on is your grandmother’s.
To be clear, you want to make sure these great expectations are tempered with grace. You do not want perfection and this should not be communicated to your children. That is a burden none of us can carry. You can expect your children to behave in accordance with your goals but you can also expect that they will make bad choices on occasion. You can communicate both aspects of these expectations to them along with the reality that when they do make mistakes, there are ways that they can make it right.
So let’s have “great expectations” for our children. If you do, you may find that they rise to the challenge.