Dr. E on setting realistic expectations for you and your children

Setting Realistic Expectations for You and Your Kids for 2015

As the dawn of 2015 breaks, many of us think about what we want to do differently to improve our lives. We also consider what we want our kids to do differently to improve their lives and ours. Sometimes the problems aren't in the fact that we want our kids to do better, it is how we execute the process of change. In some circumstance, parents can set unreasonable expectations, which can hamper their child's change and even contribute to self-esteem issues. On the contrary, not helping your child learn to set goals can also keep them from developing skills that they can use for a lifetime. Hopefully, Dr. E… can give you some strategies to guide you and your family to success.

Make this a New Year's Revolution: Resolutions are about intentions and solving problems. Revolutions are about real change that can be lasting. Commit yourself and your family to making meaningful change that benefits everyone. 

Assess your child's strengths and weaknesses and yours: When considering the changes we want our kids to make, we have to be realistic as to if they can make the changes and if our timeframe for change is reasonable. Evaluate them and yourself relationally, morally, socially, academically, physically… 

Have a family meeting: Consider having a family meeting to discuss setting goals, long-term, intermediate and short-term goals and how to work on setting them together and individually. You have to be willing to do what you are asking them to do to provide a model for them. 

Write it down: People who write down their goals are 80% more likely to accomplish them than people who don't. Write your goals and help your kids write their goals down. 

Be careful of the Nuclear Option: When parents want their kids to meet goals that they set and/or when they see their kids underperforming, they may make threats and put consequences in place that are unreasonable and extreme. Sometimes this can demotivate kids and/or lead to more defiance and even sabotage. Set up your rewards and/or consequences in advance and stick to them. If you have a major consequence, let them know the conditions for that consequence, but know that when you are trying to encourage behaviors, you want to use rewards, not punishments. 

Change Takes time: Know that it takes about ten weeks of consistent behavior change for our brain to reorganize to new behavior patterns. Also remember what you were like when you were a kid and be realistic. You will probably realize that you were a lot like your own kids. Most importantly, be a model to them now and practice what you preach. I often tell people that we are perfectly imperfect, growing toward and perhaps aspiring perfection, but not expecting it.

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