Creating Realistic Expectations for Your Child​

We all have expectations for ourselves and others. Sometimes they help and other times they hinder. There is a delicate balance that adults have to create when helping a student who struggles in school. Setting appropriate expectations is part of the puzzle of maintaining this balance.


It is challenging because we see where the student can go and we know how to get there. But most of the time, the student does not. This creates tension. What if we all loosened some of our expectations? Take this as an example: You are learning to rock climb. You have an old injury in your left arm, but you are still willing to try.


Would you rather have an instructor who pushes you to do a hard route on your second try and becomes frustrated with you when it is too hard for you, or an instructor who encourages you to try progressively more difficult routes as you become stronger and who encourages you and works with your old injury? I imagine you answered that you’d prefer the second instructor, and I encourage you to be that kind of support to your child.


In school terms, this shows up in several ways.


  1. Take into account their developmental stage, learning differences and/or disabilities, and grade level. For instance, a fourth grader may have a third-grade reading level and be more emotionally developed than her peers. That’s okay. Meet your child where they are and play to their strengths.
  2. Don’t place excessive achievement pressure on your child. He may not be capable of getting an A at the moment, but perhaps he can aim for a B and work up from there.
  3. Remember that change takes time and practice. Students often make incremental change over the course of a year and then something clicks. Like any skill, repetition, dedication, and time are important factors for mastery. Don’t expect change to happen overnight or for them to “just get it.”
  4. In that same vein, a student must be invested for change to happen. Pushing a student beyond where they are willing to go will lead to frustration. See if you can negotiate to find a balance between where you want them to be and where they are willing to go.
  5. Sometimes they have to fail to succeed. If they never fail, they won’t have the benefit of learning from their failures. Sometimes the most profound lessons arise out of failure. It can be hard to watch, but learning how to navigate failure is a crucial skill for any child.


Please let me know if you’d support around creating expectations for your child.​