As we reflect on the future of our children and our own, we make various plans, we have many hopes and expectations for it. Sometimes we don't even realize them until something goes wrong. Then we erupt like a volcano, plunge into sadness, or try to conjure reality and deny the facts.

“If only …” – this is the beginning, which, although it seems innocent, is the source of much disappointment and dissatisfaction. If only the weather had been better, if I had been younger, older, if I had quit my job then, if I hadn’t quit my job then… If only something had happened, we would certainly be happy now. Staying in the sphere of dreams, it seems to us that when we achieve our goals, it will bring us closer to the feeling of fulfillment. In reality, however, it is not. It is true that joy and satisfaction appear with each successive goal, but usually they are short-lived, and their place is quickly taken by new, emerging like mushrooms after rain – expectations. They come in many forms – we face greater and thousands of lower expectations every day.

We expect many things from ourselves, others from us, and we expect from them. Expectations apply to virtually every area of ​​life: from where and how we should live, through what our parenthood, relationships, work and vacation should look like. When we perceive our expectations, we can slowly weaken their dominant influence on us so that they do not define our everyday experiences, much less who we are. Realizing that our expectations are only our vision, which will not necessarily come true, as it depends on many factors, we reduce the risk of painful disappointment when one of the expectations does not come true.

Excessive expectations can lead to frustration, upset, and even making bad and ill-considered decisions. This does not mean that now overnight you have to get rid of them all and expect nothing more. Perhaps it would be a solution, however, as is usually the case at such moments, here the golden mean also comes in handy. It turns out that the children of their parents, who have high expectations of them, achieve better educational results. However, there is a catch – these expectations need to be tailored to the abilities of each child. If they are too big, instead of motivating them, they can lead to difficulties not only at school, but also emotional. It is therefore crucial to get to know your child well and to have faith in his / her abilities.

Pressure on children forces them to be the best. While high expectations help children feel confident and fit, pressure can make them avoid strenuous activities and lead to anxiety. In fact, it is so that children do not want to disappoint and disappoint their parents, which is why they often set a high bar for themselves. However, if placed too high and without adequate adult support, it will become an obstacle, not a motivation. Hence, close to the so-called “straw enthusiasm” and thinks that it is better to do nothing than fail.

When it comes to expectations, it’s also important to understand the difference between expectations and opportunities. Expectations assume a specific result. So in fact, they narrow our options because they act like some kind of blindfold – they make it difficult to see other options. They put rigidity into practice and cause us to react impulsively to any perceived threat to meeting those expectations. Being open to possibilities, on the other hand, promotes acceptance that the results we want, or something we want, may change over time. Then there is space in us for options that we have not even considered before, and which may turn out to be beneficial for us.

So we can move towards turning expectations into perceiving opportunities. It is useful to see life as an opportunity for development. By focusing on the value of the process, we begin to see the importance of the path to the goal, not just the end result. By recognizing the effort put into exercise, work or study, and paying attention to small achievements along the way, we will avoid the paralyzing pressure. In this process, we will also find room for making mistakes and learning from them. Treating failure as a natural stage of development allows you to take risks with greater courage and curiosity about what the next day will bring.

Remember that children will try to meet their parents’ expectations, even at the expense of themselves, because they care about the love and acceptance of their guardians. It is important to show the child that we believe in them, we cheer them on in achieving their next goals, and at the same time love them regardless of the result. It is worth bearing in mind when you want to comment on a bad grade on a test or compare your results to those of other people. Instead, we can offer children our emotional and practical support they may need to achieve their goals.

Let us encourage our children to make the effort and at the same time let us not put pressure on them. Let us trust the child and trust that, with our help, they will use their full potential. And maybe along the way it will turn out that what our child needs is something completely different from what we would like.

For people (smaller and larger) who would like to enjoy reading, I recommend the book “Kropka” by Peter Reynolds.

Murayama K. Et al. (2015), Don’t Aim Too High for Your Kids: Parental Overaspiration Undermines Students’ Learning in Mathematics, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology