Parental expectations are healthy for kids, just don’t overdo it

Child development experts say placing expectations on your children are healthy, but like with all things, when expectations are unreachable or the work load is too much it can backfire. The same can be said about have little to no expectations at all, so finding the right balance can prove invaluable for kids and their future success.

Research by the American Psychological Association shows high parental expectations are linked with high academic achievement, but setting expectations too high is counterproductive says Amy Nuttall, an assistant professor in Human Development and Family Studies at MSU.

“There is a delicate balance between having too many expectations and too little expectations.”

She says it’s important that parents provide expectations, and not just academically either, but with their attitude, and attention to give a certain level of care-giving for the family.

“Care giving teaches children important things like responsibility, empathy, and self-esteem.”

Research shows these life skills help kids adjust to outside pressures and to achieve on their own, but parents, you need to know if what you expect is a reachable goal. If not, your kids may catapult your wishes out of focus, especially if some of the expectations include a ton of household chores.

“We use the term parentification to refer to children who are becoming more like a parent or serving in a parent-like role in the family,” says Nuttall. “We need to be careful to make sure that children are still able to be kids.”

Also, experts say kids will achieve and feel positive about setting lofty expectations when parents teach a drive for success from within.

“It’s important for children to be intrinsically motivated to do things for their family and to contribute as well and so teaching intrinsic motivation is really important for future success.”