When Your Child’s Effort Falls Short of Expectations
A parent question about high expectations…
“How do we manage the high expectations and praise the effort even if it falls short?”
One of the things I love about the 10 Priorities is how they work together in parenting, as well as life, situations. They give us a framework for how to work out parenting issues and issues for our own life.
The question above is a little bit tricky, as it’s saying that the parent set the expectation, let go of the outcome, but doesn’t trust the effort. I’m guessing the parent seems to feel the effort fell short of what they had hoped or expected, and so then what happens?
Then we have to choose truth over harmony (and I strongly advocate for truth as one of your family’s core principles), and tell our child that we feel their effort was not what it could be. They may disagree with us, and this is a chance to teach them about self-honesty and conscience. Ultimately, they will either continue an effort that is below your expectation and may eventually have to deal with a failure. (Enter Priority #5: Value Success and Failure.)
Let’s put this question into a hypothetical situation:
The scenario: You know your child is capable of a grade of B or above and you’ve told her that you expect her to study and achieve that level in her classes at school. You see her studying for a mid-term in one of her subjects, but she’s also texting at the same time, and the television is also on in the room where she is studying. You speak to her about your concern that she is not studying as diligently as she could. The reply: “Don’t worry about it, Mom! I’ve got this covered.”
The outcome: The grade she earns on the test is below a B; you sit down to talk to her about her lack of effort in her studying, reiterating the expectation – that “in this family we give it all we’ve got in our jobs and in our school work. And I don’t think you did that this time.”
You have to bet on the truth with your kids. (That’s why Priority # 1 is Truth over Harmony. It has to come first in order for us to use the other priorities. The others can be used in any order to help guide us when we need it.)
You can’t praise effort that you didn’t see or that you don’t trust; in academics, sports, cleaning a room, or chores at home. Make the expectation clear, including your expectation about effort. And don’t praise dishonestly. If you don’t feel the effort was there, then say so. Bet on the truth with your kids; hold them accountable, and be willing to risk the relationship in order to raise them to be the best they can be.
I hope I’ve understood this question correctly. If not, please let me know.