We tend to give the best of everything to our children. As long as it is within our control, we accept nothing less than BEST.

Our children get the best toys. Organic foods. Top notch pre-school. We send our children to enrichment classes hoping they are masters of all trades. We go all out to secure the best Primary school by ALL legal means through hundred hours of parent volunteering, religion, moving house, joining alumni, be a member of a clan and even serve as a grassroots leader. When our child doesn’t do so well in school (the context of the words “doesn’t do so well” varies a wide spectrum, can be from 0 to 99.5 marks), we send him to the best tuition class our country has. Whatever we could do, we did them all. But there is one thing we CANNOT do. We cannot sit for their examinations.

When our child comes back with his exam papers with less than good results in PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations), our world becomes crushed in a matter of a heartbeat. Suddenly we realize that all our efforts on our child from womb to now are all wasted and all we can feel is anger. For a child who has gone through a nation exam paper for the first time and probably doesn’t know what the big deal it is all about, except that all his 6 years and more of life after pre-school are study, study and study. He feels that life has ended at the moment he looks at the disappointment and anger in his parents’ eyes.

We feel angry and disappointed with our children’s academic performance because we have EXPECTATIONS on them. Once they fall off these expectations, we get worried and unhappy. If we don’t have expectations on our children, we will be able to accept our children as they are. We will be able to see their strengths in a clearer view and not masked by the pursuit of academic excellence.

After all, what is the use of academic excellence if they grow up to be successful in their career at the expense of more meaningful growing up memories with their parents. Who wants to have our days as children be remembered only for books and stress? With expectations, our children grow up only to please their parents and the only way to do that is to get good results. It becomes a pleasing the parents game because of parents’ EXPECTATIONS.

It’s terrible that we are all caught up in this paper chase. Everyone is doing it. If we do not, we are falling behind the herd. Often, I ask myself if I am really prepared to let my children go to average schools and just be an average student with average results. Isn’t getting good results an esteem booster? Don’t we all enjoy the oohs and aahs that come with being in top class in the school? Me and the hub had enjoyed such honour and isn’t it a pity our children do not take after us? Can we be neutral and not feel a tinge of jeolousy when all those parents around us boast about their children in top schools?

When our child does not hit our expectations, we get angry, we get disappointed, we get very sad.

In no time, we see our child behaving as if we are his greatest enemy. He doesn’t listen to us. He thinks we disagree with everything he does. He shuts out each word from his mouth. He doesn’t even look at us the same way he looks at an outsider. He probably treats an outsider more politely than us. All because he feels he cannot meet our expectations and our “frequency” is no longer in sync.

Behavioural problems come next.

Maybe, we should stop expecting from our children.

What should we do if they come back with less than good results?

Be cool as a cucumber. Detach emotions as much as possible. Don’t forget to breathe.

We should try to find out why and not show our disappointment at first reaction. Be curious. Focus on why (reasons behind). Don’t focus on the results.

If we know our child has tried his best, the first thing we should do is to ask him how he feels about it. Most children will feel sad, and we should then pat him on his back and say,” I know you have tried your best. I will be with you.”

If our child is careless or does not understand a topic, the first thing to do is also to ask him how he feels about it. He probably understands why he has such bad results, and most likely wish to change things around. Here is when we need to tell him we will be with him and help him.

All human beings want to be accompanied through ups and downs. The power of letting them know we love them and want to be with them through whatever feelings they may have is formidable. It helps to soothe their feelings. It helps them feel loved. A child who knows that his parents understand him, will naturally allow them to reach out to him emotionally. Only when he feels love and feels secured, he will then have a good relationship with his parents and eventually walks on the right path.

This post first appeared on Kids R Simple and is the 2nd post on “How to deal with children with behavioural problems” series and is what I gained from Lee Chong Jian’s talk. If you have missed the first post on Reach out to your child’s innermost emotions, catch it here. Stay tune for Part 3 – Let Go – Don’t teach.

Do you have many expectations on your child? Are you prepared to accept a less than good results from your child? Do you dare to put down your expectations?
Tell me about it. I look forward to your take on this! 🙂