Monday, December 1, 2008

Reasonable vs. Unreasonable Expectations in parenting

When a parent changes his expectations of the child, something great happens―there is a change in the outcome of behavior. Parents who are sensitive to the needs of their child are prone to having more reasonable expectations than those who merely react to their child’s behavior. Expectations that are clear and age appropriate are those that will most likely be met by the child. On the other hand, expectations that are either too high or age inappropriate will be unmet. For example, a parent who is allowing her twelve-year-old daughter to do her own laundry but fights with her to have her load the dishwasher is not having realistic expectations of the daughter. A father who expects his five-year-old son to do his baby sister’s laundry in addition to cleaning the bathroom every evening is expecting a bit too much from the child.
At times, parents who have not been actively present in the child’s life―for example, if the child was raised by extended family members, came from a foster home, or was raised primarily by the sole custodian or guardian―face issues they must address, and they may lack the tools to parent effectively.
This may be a common occurrence in situations where the child has suffered an illness for a prolonged period of time. It is not unusual for parents to try and rescue the child by trying to meet each of his needs. This is not helpful to the child because it does not allow him to develop a sense of age-appropriate autonomy and responsibility. In the long run, the parent will feel frustrated when the child does not meet the set expectations, and the parent will continue to do injustice to the youngster. An example is the case of the twelve-year-old girl from whom the parent expects only the minimum. In that scenario the daughter may grow up to be overly dependent on others and irresponsible. Correcting behaviors early in the child’s development is important in ensuring that the child develops moral and ethical healthy character. Children should be able to participate in family life by having on-going age-appropriate responsibilities.
Excerpt from: My Kid is Acting Out and I am about to shout: Effective Parenting Made Easy (audio book)