Home > Discipline & Respect > Explaining Expectations to Children

Explaining Expectations to Children

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 13 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Children Expectations Behaviour Attitude

As tempting as it might be to say “because I said so!” when it comes to your children, it’s really not fair to ask something of a child and not give him or her any indication of why (s)he should follow your instructions. Look for an opportunity to have a quiet chat with your child and tackle as many topics about your expectations as are age appropriate. Explain why you have these expectations and then share a special treat to end the discussion in a positive way.

Having A Quiet Chat With Children

If possible, communicate your expectations to your child before (s)he acts in a manner you feel is inappropriate so that (s)he doesn’t simply feel as though (s)he is being scolded. Consider:
  • Picking a time when your child is normally in a quieter mood.
  • Picking a time when you are not rushed or particularly stressed.
  • Leaving your other children out of the conversation.
  • Talking in a comfortable, private spot.
  • Always using an even tone and positive phrases.
  • Maintaining eye contact and positive body language (no crossed arms).
  • Avoiding yelling, negative facial expressions or defensive body language.

Tackling Age Appropriate Topics

Your expectations for your child will depend upon the age of your child, so if you feel that you can’t explain an expectation to your child then perhaps you need to re-think why you hold him or her to this standard. Common expectations parents communicate to children are:
  • To pay attention at school and do homework on time.
  • To play fairly and nicely with siblings and other children.
  • To be pleasant to all children and never bully others.
  • Household chores for which they are responsible, and on what schedule.
  • How to handle any allowance paid to them.
  • Good behaviour during religious services or ceremonies.
  • Speaking politely to children and adults, especially in their family.

Explaining Your Expectations

It’s not really fair to ask your children to do things without explaining why, so be prepared to tell your child that your expectations are just to keep them happy, healthy and safe. Reassure your child that you are not having this conversation because (s)he did anything wrong, but rather because you want to help him or her learn and grow and be happy. Also, once you explain to your child why (s)he will be expected to act a certain way you can refer to this conversation in the future as a reminder when your child does something dangerous or inappropriate.

Sharing A Special Treat

After explaining your expectations to your child, see if you can’t share a special treat to both end the conversation on a high note and create a good memory for your child to refer back to. Simple treats include:
  • Enjoying a snack together, for example a cookie that is usually off-limits.
  • Playing the child’s favourite game together.
  • Reading a book together.
  • Allowing your child to watch a TV programme or video.
  • Taking your child to a favourite park or playground.
  • Small toys like bouncing balls or yo-yo’s.

Children’s minds are like sponges so discussing your expectations of them is a good idea while they are still absorbing social cues and mores. If possible, have a quiet, private chat with your child about what you expect of their behaviour and attitudes and discuss age-appropriate topics that (s)he can understand. Be sure to truly explain why you expect these things of your child, and end your talk with a special treat to send everyone off happy.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Mace
    Re: Grounding Children
    As of right now I have been grounded for 8 months and I still have more time. Before this I was grounded for a year and a half. I live with my…
    2 April 2020
  • Jomo
    Re: Questionnaire: Does Your Child Have ADHD?
    My daughter will be 10 years by april. She's just able to write letter A-G and numbers 1-7 not even very well.…
    27 March 2020
  • Mimi
    Re: Conduct Disorder (CD)
    I have three boys 11:10 and 9 they've been through a lot divorce their dad getting in a car wreck with their grandma and her dying because…
    16 March 2020
  • BCGreen
    Re: Children and Body Rocking
    I rocked and sang myself to sleep for years. It’s how I learned all the Beatles songs. I did it until I was at least 11 or 12. I…
    10 March 2020
  • Steph91
    Re: Questionnaire: Does Your Child Have ADHD?
    My son is 9 ten this year his behaviour is terrible And when I say terrible I mean to the point of I’m lost of…
    24 February 2020
  • Becky
    Re: Grounding Children
    My granddaughter was grounded by her nina and that was her not being able to come to her nanas house. So in other words shes taking me away…
    23 February 2020
  • Michelle
    Re: Questionnaire: Does Your Child Have ADHD?
    My 13 year old daughter easily gets distracted very disruptive she has a meltdown when things dont go her way…
    16 February 2020
  • Aly
    Re: Children and Aggressive Outbursts
    Hi my 5 yr old granddaughter is getting very naughty she will put shoes on off on off until she thinks they right hair she…
    15 February 2020
  • Babyangel1988
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    Hi I have a 12 year old that doesn't listen to anything I say will not follow any home rules and lashingout at home and…
    12 February 2020
  • NONE
    Re: Reward Charts for Good Behaviour
    WHATIS THE ROLE OF COMMUNICATION IN MODELLING APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR IN CHILDREN
    8 February 2020