4 February 2010 04:52 PM

High Expectations

by Dr. Rick

I’ve written it frequently.  Kids who come from families with high expectations, a respect for learning, and supportive role models do better in school and life than kids who don’t.  There’s a ton of research about high expectations (you can look it up), but it’s also good common sense.  Expect and insist that your kids do well in school, get their homework done regularly, study hard, use their time wisely, and establish good habits, and they more than likely will.  The earlier you start, the more likely your –and their – success.


Ask just about any successful student and he’ll tell you that his parents are behind him with a firm but encouraging hand.  This characteristic is universal, transcending geography, affluence, race, and age.  Parents count.  It’s that simple.


From their earliest years, talking about college, a trade, a vocation, a real and tangible future, helps make it visible, real, and attainable.  Why let kids flounder for themselves when we can guide them, let them discover their talents, and help them avoid wasted years?


Here are some thoughts to keep in mind.

  1. Be clear.  The clearer your expectations, the better.  When we expect our kids to behave in a certain way, to establish healthy values and habits, and to live up to their God-given potential, we give them the power to reach these goals.  Clearly stated and often repeated expectations leave no room for confusion.  Listen to their ideas, give them room to discover their talents, then set goals together and come up with appropriate rewards and consequences.

  2. High expectations are for students and schools.  Parents with high expectations not only keep their kids on their toes, but the schools, too.  When we insist on talented teachers, up-to-date text books and materials, lots of learning experiences, and challenging curricula, we’re preparing our kids for the future.  Expect excellence and be on hand to insist on it.

  3. Don’t forget kids with special needs and talents.  It’s often the case that our kids with special needs or gifts are left behind.  A need unmet or a gift unrealized can have years of consequences on learning, confidence, and success.  If your child needs special tutoring, make it happen.  If she has a gift (music, writing, art, sports, whatever), encourage and nurture it.  Accept it with thankfulness.

  4. Seek help from others.  Study what successful schools are doing.  Ask other parents what their “secrets” are.  Get the insights of experienced teachers and guidance counselors.  What did your own parents do?

  5. Low expectations have far-reaching consequences.  Low expectations lead to unpreparedness in work, life, and higher education.  Why do you think there are so many people in remedial classes in college?  In low-paying, unchallenging jobs?  With the feeling that there’s got to be “more” to what they’re doing with their lives?  Don’t do this to your kids.

What high expectations were you encouraged to reach?  Who helped you to reach your goals?  Share your experiences with Dr. Rick Blog readers by clicking on Comments below.




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