Parents, hold your children to a (reasonable) standard

This is not my bathroom but, far out, I wish it was.
This is not my bathroom but, far out, I’d be nice if it was.

Photo by Ken Doerr.

The following is a transcript from my Peaceful Parent segment on The Journey radio program.

Late last night when I went to have my shower I found that only one child had left her day’s clothing on the floor, which was a welcome sight really, since until recently I’ve been greeted by a large heap of clothing and towels, toothpaste tubes, toys and random kitchen utensils on the floor.

I expect that all the children, except the one-year-old, will pick their own clothes up and take them either to their bedroom or to the laundry for washing, and they are beginning to meet that expectation more often than not.

All parents have expectations of their children.

Setting clear expectations is important for developing children’s motivation and life skills, and fosters their self-esteem. But these expectations must be realistic. For example, I can ask any of the eldest three of my five children set the table for dinner, but I can only expect my eldest two to stack the dishwasher without help.

Here’s a handy guide to age-appropriate chores.

Again, not mine, but very nice.  It's quite fun looking at other people's bathrooms...
Again, not mine, but very nice. Photo by MyWallArt.

If our expectations are unrealistic it only sets us, and our children, up for a whole lot of disappointment and frustration.

Often we are hardest on ourselves, holding ourselves to impossible standards. I sometimes get frustrated because I haven’t yet written the children’s book that’s been in my mind for months. And why can’t I be the cool parent I thought I would be, rather than the one who nags everyone one about picking up clothes off the bathroom floor?

If our expectations of ourselves are too rigid we can get a sense that we are constantly failing to be the kind of parent we wished to be.

This leads to discouragement, and maybe even overcompensating in our parenting by giving our children more material things because we feel deep down that our love and time is not enough.

I believe it’s better to set realistic expectations for ourselves as individuals and parents as well, and be patient with ourselves when we fail, just as we would be with our children.

Our children are very perceptive and they will learn how to set and achieve goals in a healthy way by watching how we do this for ourselves.

What expectations do you have of your children in terms of self-care or helping around the house?

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