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How to Set Clear Expectations For Your Child?

When setting expectations for my children gone wrong…
and that problem lies with me!

That problem doesn’t lie with my children. 

😤 Have you ever asked your child to do certain tasks but when you check on your child, it wasn’t done? 

😤 Have you ever pre-empted your child to behave in a certain way but in the end, your child is in a totally opposite manner? 

😤 Have you ever served your child nutritious food but nothing gets eaten? 

As a normal mama, I have expectations for my children but the more expectations I have, the more disappointments I have when the expectations were not met. 

I thought they were just rebellious and going against me. 

Then I realized that I was the one who created all these disappointments for myself! 

I’m guilty as charged!

It is very similar to how people always described women expecting to be understood by men but without telling what they want exactly 🤪
If you remember the book “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus” which describes how different these creatures are

So are adults and children 

Children are born without knowing what is expectation

As an adult, we have to guide them and communicate with them what exactly is an expectation 

As commonly as we tell our children, score well and you’ll get a good job in the future

But what exactly does it mean by scoring well in school leads to a good job and what exactly is a good job? 

I realised I fell into this trap of expecting my children to know what to do and they know the consequences because I know what to do and what it leads to. 

I’ve been there, done that.

I have expected them to know that they need to study hard and score well so that they will have a better future and a better-paying job. In fact, they do not understand what is this whole “study well leads to a good job” concept is about and we have been speaking to each other in a “different language”. 

Bear in mind, they have NOT experienced any of this and so they do not understand what it means.

In truth, I need to be clear in communicating my expectations to them 


Let’s use the same score well to get a good job example.

Every child is different. We need to know their strengths and weaknesses so that we can set expectations based on them not based on my expectations.


1. Be very very clear with the expectations

Explain clearly but with simple words and give them clear instructions on what needs to be done. In addition, set rules so that they can follow and be consistent with the consequences if the rules are broken.

Instead of: Stop playing on your device.

Try: You may play on your device for an hour provided you have done your revision for Science on the chapter of xxx. There will be no playtime if you have not completed your revision for today. 

We can set limitations so that our children can adhere to and be consistent with the penalties for breaking the rules.

2. Discuss with your child and listen to their feedback

Are they facing any difficulties? It is very important to know if they are facing any difficulties in order to meet that expectation, otherwise, both parties will be frustrated.

I still remember the day I was reprimanding my child for moving too much when he was doing his reading. I was expecting him to sit properly and not fidget around too much. Until the day when I received a letter from the school that he may have myopia and we need to send him for further checks. That was the day I realised he was having vision challenges which resulted in the fidgeting.

Since then, I always discuss with my children and listen to them if they have any difficulties in anything they do. No more assumptions.

If need be, sign a contract between you and your child. This works especially well with older children so as to minimise confusion and hold them accountable. 

3. Tell them how you feel and the reasons for the way things are done.

Guide and support them by heart. Children do not comprehend why things must be undertaken in a certain manner.

In addition to reading, for instance, it might be possible to read lying down on the bed, but why not?
Why must I brush my teeth before bed?
Why must I revise my homework after school?

If I were to tell you, “You cannot do that, because I said so!”
How would you feel?
Most of us would be confounded and wonder why we are denied the opportunity.

What if I tell you “I would appreciate it if you don’t do that as I do not want you to get hurt”
After hearing my directive, what do you imagine and what do you feel?

By expressing to your child your feelings, we are also teaching them about feelings as well and how different situations affect one’s feelings. 

Providing reasons will allow your child to understand better why things are done in a certain way and its consequences. As parents, we have the ability to control and manage situations, and it’s up to us to manage them in a healthy way.

After all, you wouldn’t want them to grow up thinking that you are an unreasonable parent who is always controlling what they do and having them rebelling against you all the time. 

So, the next time you start having thoughts of why your child is always working against you, maybe you want to come to check on these 3 pointers.

For your convenience, I have done up a poster which you can download, print out and place somewhere in your house that can be easily seen and set as a reminder to yourself. I did that and I find this very helpful. I hope is the same for you too!

If you have more tips, do feel free to share them in the comments
If you have questions, do share in the comments too and I will get back as soon as I can. 

Happy parenting!


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