4 Things You Shouldn't Expect from Your Children

There are certain things you shouldn't expect from your children. Rather, you should have realistic expectations and help them do their best.
4 Things You Shouldn't Expect from Your Children
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 22 January, 2023

In the education of our children, we sometimes have expectations that in the end are quite different from what actually occurs in reality. This makes us feel disappointed because what we expect never comes to fruition. For this reason, it is important to be clear that there are things you shouldn’t expect from your children, as they may be your own desires, but not theirs.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t expect anything from your children. In fact, they even need you to expect things from them because, if you didn’t, they’d never make an effort to comply with the rules of coexistence, which are fundamental and will help them throughout their lives. In this article, we’re going to tell you more about this issue.

What things shouldn’t you expect from your children?

Many parents create expectations about how children should behave or do things, but these expectations aren’t always fulfilled. For that reason, it’s important that we’re clear about what we should and shouldn’t expect from our children. Let’s take a look at it below.

1. That they behave like other children

Each child is unique. Some are more extroverted and others aren’t as outgoing, some are shorter and some are taller, etc. In general, we adults have a tendency to consciously or unconsciously compare our children with others. This is partly normal, but, on many occasions, the way in which we express this can do a lot of harm to children.

Comparing siblings has negative consequences for the child who’s being judged as less capable. In addition, if we compare our children with others in a negative way, we cause them to understand that they’re not good enough. Instead of all this, what we should do is the following:

  • Set realistic expectations. Children will develop much better if we don’t expect things from them that are beyond their reach.
  • Teach our children that we expect the best from them and that they can do their best with effort and perseverance.
Two sisters fighting over a laptop.
Children shouldn’t be expected to be good all the time or to behave like other children. Also, one should avoid falling into comparisons, as it can hurt the child who’s being judged.

2. That they’ll be well-behaved all the time

We can’t expect our children to behave like perfect angels all the time, as this is something that doesn’t make sense. We all have bad days and those days when we may not be as good as other days. Sometimes we’re not in the mood or in the spirit to do what we should be doing. The same thing can happen to children. So, what do we do when we want our children to behave?

  • We have to specify what we mean when we refer to good behavior. For example, when they share toys with their siblings or read a story to their little sister, instead of telling them how good they’ve been, we should thank them for their good deeds and attitudes.
  • No one’s good all the time, so we shouldn’t expect our children to be good 24 hours a day. Sometimes, it’s better to give them a break, let some things slide, and choose our battles wisely, especially when the issue is minor and doesn’t hurt anyone. This will make parenting a little easier.

3. That they’ll behave as if they were older

Sometimes, we expect our children to behave as if they were older, but we need to keep in mind their age or the stage they’re going through. Children can be very calm one minute and then drive you crazy the next. They can also be curious, talkative, or silly. Children are going to behave according to their age and, therefore, we shouldn’t expect them to behave any other way.

  • We must understand that children are children and behave as such.
  • There may be children who behave with greater maturity. Even so, this doesn’t make them adults.
A mother and daughter wearing matching outfits.
Many times, parents expect their children to be like them. However, sometimes they tell them how to act without setting the right example. In general, children learn more by imitation than by orders or advice.

4. That they’ll be like you

Sometimes, it seems that we parents need our children to be just like us. It’s true that they learn from our behaviors. For example, if we’re thrifty, they may start to be thrifty too; if we have a pessimistic perception of life, children are more likely to end up having the same; or if they hear us yelling when we’re angry, they’ll learn that this is the way to express emotions.

For this reason, we should teach our children through our behaviors, without telling them how to act or how they should be. Children are like sponges and are always aware of what we do, so we must bring out our best version for them to imitate.

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they’ve never failed to imitate them”

– James Arthur –

On what you shouldn’t expect from your children

We’ve already seen that there are certain things you shouldn’t expect from your children because you’ll end up producing unnecessary frustration for both your children and yourself. Yes, it’s important that we have expectations and that we expect our little ones to do their best, but not for the sake of being above their classmates or friends, but for their own sake. This way, they’ll be able to see that every effort has its reward.

Therefore, don’t forget to let them be who they are without forcing anything. Of course, it’s important that you always be their guide and provide them with unconditional support. It’s key to always have realistic expectations of your children and, this way, you’ll never end up disappointed.

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  • Giménez, M. (2012). Los niños vienen sin manual de instrucciones: técnicas de una superniñera para educar a tus hijos. Aguilar.
  • Elias, M. J. (2014). Educar con inteligencia emocional: Cómo conseguir que nuestros hijos hijos sean sociables, felices y responsables. DEBOLS! LLO.

The contents of You Are Mom is for educational and informational purposes only. At no time do they replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. If in doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.