Your Kid is Not Bad. You Suck at Setting Expectations

I had my daughter, and I thought I would know exactly what to do.

They tried to call it ‘motherly instincts’, but it was really just doing what my parents did. I had never even thought of preparing past the baby stage, so I pretty much winged toddlerhood.

And let me tell you, that’s a crazy place to be clueless. It’s all explosive messes, poop everywhere, and what definitely feels like intentional defiance. My daughter was incredibly smart for her age, so it was also the point I thought she could listen well, follow my directions perfectly, and follow through with commands every time.

Turns out, I was wrong.

You know what I’m talking about. “At that age, she should know how to/know better.”

Through my own reading and research, I learned that most of the expectations I had for my daughter didn’t align with her stage of development. I expected her to be able to follow through with multi-step directions, regulate her own emotions, clean unassisted, and have impulse control, among many other things. These skills take brain development, practice, and guidance…all of which were outside my 3-year-old’s capability.

Once I adjusted my expectations, it was like everything fell into place. Days flowed more smoothly, and her confidence soared from being able to continuously perform the (developmentally appropriate) requests I made. Though I still asked her to do things that may have been a bit more challenging, the new expectation was that I wanted her to try, not that I expected her to excel. There was no anger or frustration, and if there was a task she couldn’t complete, we would do it together. 

It changed the game for everything. Room cleaning, getting ready for school…you name it!

Setting realistic expectations is one of the most impactful changes you can make to your parenting strategy.

If you’re ready to change your home into a more peaceful place where parents are calm, children are thriving, and love abounds, schedule your free 30-minute coaching session to jumpstart your new parenting journey.

Dara Jones

Certified Parenting Coach

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