Ever had that moment when you expected more? That meal you purchased and the flavours didn’t live up to your expectations? That car you ordered and it just doesn’t have the torque you thought it had? That book you read and the ending didn’t deliver? Or what about that course you went to and the content simply didn’t cover off on the issues you wanted addressed? Yes? Know that feeling of disappointment when your expectations aren’t met?
How do we feel then when we can see the potential of our kids, believe in them, expect great things for them but they don’t see it themselves or don’t push to “reach for the stars”?
If you’re anything like me, I want to constantly encourage my kids to be their best but not push them beyond their capabilities. I want to see them flourish and not waste their time at school. Is there a way we can do this? Here are a couple of simple ideas that I think point us in the right direction:
1 BE UPFRONT
Let your kids know that you see their potential. You believe in them and what they can be. Clearly let them know what you expect of them – not that they’re going to get all A’s, but they will put in 1 hour of work each night (or that homework must be kept up to date). As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think they can, or you think they can’t, you’re right”.
2 BE REAL
You obviously know what your kids know and can do. Setting realistic expectations will lie in knowing your child, and not making unnecessary and harmful comparisons. Being present and keeping track of their abilities can really help you determine how best to help your child progress. Personal bests are the key. Because not every child can get into the top sporting team or necessarily get their first university preference, but they can still play sport, improve and even excel, and they can still find a pathway to their desired degree.
3 DO THE JOURNEY
Success is always going to be about the process, and not the outcome. Developing a growth mindset in your child will foster development, study and learning. Hard work is a great outcome in itself, not to mention a solid path to achieving goals and even good grades. Regularly offer them emotional support, practical encouragement and let them know often that you have faith in their ability. It could be offering them a sympathetic ear when they’re feeling stressed or simply listening to them go over what they learnt in school over dinner. And never forget that sometimes “not succeeding” or “falling short” can be the mistakes that motivate our kids to discover how to do something better, where they went wrong and make them hungry to fix things the next time around!
4 SHOOT FOR THE STARS
… and reach the moon. It’s really important to have expectations of our kids, because if we don’t have them, they won’t strive for something. High expectations push kids to achieve their best, help them feel confident and capable, and can motivate and encourage them. Belief in your child’s abilities can set their trajectory for the stars, knowing that if they reach the moon in the process, it’s a fantastic outcome! We just have to be careful that high expectations don’t become pressure – pressure that pushes them to be THE best rather than THEIR best, and can lead to avoidance, anxiety and low self-esteem. Remember, the very act of striving for high expectations brings about progress.
At the end of the day, we want our kids to be their best. Anything we can do that grows their confidence, develops their abilities and encourages them to strive for something better can only create a great version of themselves!
Mr Benton Craig / Deputy Principal