Parental Expectations

Parental Expectations, Childhood Anxiety and Self Esteem: What is the Connection?

In Therapy by debbieconley

It seems to be that no matter what age children are, parental expectations come into play. When children are infants we expect them to sleep through the night at some point!  When they are around 1 years old, we expect them to begin to walk , later on toilet train and God forbid they are not reading by Kindergarten!  The list goes on and on.  Parental Expectations.  There is nothing wrong with them.  We expect our children to be polite, share, do homework, help around the house etc…

What if these expectations are not developmentally appropriate?  What is the expectations are unrealistic?  What if they cause undue stress?  Sometimes as parents, we may not even know we are creating this stress.  Think back to your own childhood.  What expectations were placed on you by your parents or caregivers? How do you feel about those expectations now?  As parents and caregivers, we want our children to feel successful.  But in order for them to feel successful, they have to feel our unconditional love and confidence in them.  How do we get them there? We need to set realistic expectations. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have heard children both in and out of my practice verbalize the intense pressure they feel to achieve whether it’s academically, musically, sports-related or any other venue.

We all need motivation, encouragement and expectations. They make us better people. We need to remember our children are learning from us.

If you question whether your expectations are realistic ask yourself these questions:
  • Where did this expectation come from?
  • Who is it important to?
  • Is this expectation about something that happened to me in my childhood?
  • Is it developmentally appropriate for my child?
  • Will this expectation build my child up or tear them down?
  • How does this expectation affect my child’s self-esteem?

If expectations are put on a children and they cannot live up to them, they begin to feel like failures and their self-esteem takes a plunge. When children feel accepted for who they are, and not just what they can accomplish, they feel better about themselves.  I have actually had kids tell me “I just feel like a letter grade”.

All kids deserve to have healthy self-esteem and should be loved unconditionally and accepted for who they are.  So enjoy your kids for who they are and where they are in their development.  Cherish their own unique talents, support their struggles and love them for the special people they are.