Clear Expectations Brings Security to Your Child

Are you saying things like, “clean up your room” or “get yourself ready for bed” without ever clearly explaining what that means. Clean up your room could mean that you just don’t want to see anything on the floor or it could mean that each toy should be in its proper bin. You may be unhappy with the job that your child does because you never took the time to teach him/her to do what you expect. By showing your child what you expect you can reduce frustration and bring a sense of security to your child.

It may just be easier to do it yourself but that is not thinking of the long term goal. You want to raise children who feel capable and have a strong work ethic. I think children thrive when they feel useful. So before you ask them to do something, you can do it with them, come alongside, giving guidance. It may take repetition and support. Focus on what they are doing well, don’t nit pic at their mistakes. Your positive attitude can be contagious, if it looks like it is easy and fun for you then they will be more willing.

When explaining your expectations to your child make sure that the expectations are reasonable. Consider the child’s age and ability, their attention span and understanding. We want them to be able to succeed.

Once the expectation is clear and you have taught your child where things go for example, then you need to check on them in a reasonable amount of time to see if they did what you asked. If you don’t follow through by checking then you are not able to either praise them for a job well done or teach them what they may have missed and how they can do better. Checking on them shows them that you mean what you say and it is important to listen. If they have chosen to totally ignore your request then you will need to give them the consequence.

Having clear expectations also applies to behaviors outside the home such as how to behave in a restaurant or the grocery store. Before entering the grocery store for example, get their attention and explain the type of behavior you expect. Should they hold your hand, have one hand on the cart or maybe sit in the cart? Tell them they need to keep their voice at a reasonable volume, no running or grabbing things off the shelf. No whining if they don’t get what they ask for. Once you have explained what appropriate behavior is then you explain what will happen if they behave, maybe they can get a cookie from the bakery, or if they do not behave, you will have to leave the store and there will be limited screen time that evening. Then you must be willing to follow through with these consequences, either good or bad. They need to know that you will stand by your word.

Children do not know what is appropriate behavior unless you teach them. You want them to learn to handle themselves in public, to care for themselves at home and to contribute to the family.  Parenting requires you to teach and to follow through. You will bring security and clarity to your child when they know you are a person who is showing them the way with love and consistency.

If you are struggling with any aspect of parenting, you are not alone and we can help. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  Also, visit our Facebook page for ongoing resources.

Written by Lisa Strong

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