Setting Clear and Simple Expectations

by Linda Michie, Executive Director and Founder at Wishing Well Adoption & Family Services

Setting Expectations - Parenting advice from Wishing Well Family Services - Virginia BeachMany years ago I attended a wonderful training to become a mediator. During the training, the instructors had us play a card game. No one was allowed to talk. They gave us written instructions for the game with a point value system for the cards and step-by-step instructions on how to play.

The game started off well enough but quickly turned confusing. A lot of mistakes were made. Some people around me were getting angry! The people at my own table weren’t playing the game right and soon the entire room was in silent chaos.

The instructors had given all of us a different set of rules.

And so it sometimes seems to our children.

Our first requirement to play the game right is to know how to play the game right.

As parents, if we tell our children what we expect from them during any given circumstance, they begin on solid footing and can reap the rewards of cooperating, even if just a smile or a kind word from you.
Can they still choose to do something other than what you expect? Of course! But you will have let them know what the consequences will be, so they are making an informed choice. This makes their playing field fair.

It looks like this:
Let’s say Katey has trouble waiting nicely online. You say…
“Katey, we are going to Josh’s birthday party now”
“I expect you to wait quietly for your turn to play the games”
“This is so all the children can have fun”
“If you are not able to wait quietly until it is your turn, you will not be able to play the game”

Now Katey has a fair and simple choice to make with fair and simple consequences if she makes the undesired choice.

If you wait for her to make the mistake then pull her away from her friends, angrily scolding her, she will be angry too, feeling like she is being treated unfairly. If you ban her from all the games, the punishment is too big for the crime and it removes the opportunity for her to improve. If you don’t address it, you are teaching her that it’s OK to be rude.

So you simply disallow that game and let her try again at the next game.

When you catch her doing it right you can let her know that you are proud of her.

A thumbs-up, a kiss on the forehead, a pat on the back, or simply saying “good job” are enough without over-praising or embarrassing her.

Remember, if you need help, you can always contract a parenting coach. Call Wishing Well at (757) 739-2118 and choose a plan that works for you!

Linda Michie

Linda Michie

Executive Director and Founder at Wishing Well Adoption & Family Services
Linda Michie holds a Master's degree in Urban Studies, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University.
Linda has worked in the child welfare field since 1999 and is a Licensed Child Placing Agent.
Wishing Well assists in domestic adoptions in the state of Virginia, and provides parenting coaching, and supervised visitation in Virginia Beach, VA.
Linda Michie

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