Communicating Expectations

What do you expect from your kids? How do you communicate your expectations to them? Today, let’s talk about what’s reasonable and what’s not.

All parents expect certain things from their children. But expectations that are too high, too low, or never clearly expressed can lead to trouble. Having expectations that are too high promotes failure rather than success and leads to an enormous amount of stress for both you and your kids. We want to avoid the “I will never measure up,” syndrome that interrupts trying before it ever gets started.

On the other hand, expectations that are too low can lead to failure, too, because they don’t help your children to stretch their capacities and develop a sense of competence and resiliency. Reasonable, higher expectations also allow children the opportunity to discover more of who they are and what they can do. It’s realizing potential and getting the positive feedback from that discovery.

And here is a vital component to the process: Make sure you talk to your kids about your expectations and spell them out as clearly as possible. If you expect them to clean their room once a week, make sure they understand exactly what “clean” means and which day of the week they need to have it done by. At the same time, tailor your expectations so that they are realistic and appropriate to that particular child at that particular stage of their development.

What’s right for one doesn’t necessarily fit another and what was reasonable ten years ago may no longer make much sense today. And remember, the only failure is in not trying. Even a modest success is the foundation for a positive learning experience.

By the way, if you expect your kids to share certain values you cherish – such as honesty, confidence, and dependability – make sure you serve as a good role model. Even when they may not seem to be listening to what you say, you can bet they are paying close attention to what you do.

P.S. Everything above goes for the workplace, as well. Clearly expressed expectations drive clear and well-understood goals, which then return excellence in performance and results. Leadership drives the organizational culture. So if you want honest, confident and dependable employees and team members, they will be looking to you as their example.