Episode 2: Clear Expectations
I’m Heather Anderson, and this is Episode 2: Clear Expectations.
Welcome to The Mommy Whisperer. I’m your host, Heather Anderson. I’m a mother, wife, educator, and a Certified Life Coach specializing in parenting and relationships. I’m here to talk about all things motherhood, and to inspire more confidence, happiness, and fulfillment on your journey through motherhood… the most important job in the world!
Hello, amazing moms! Thank you for joining me today.
We are going to talk about, what I like to call The 3 C’s of Successful Parenting. The first C that we are going to talk about today is called Clear Expectations.
Do you find yourself saying things like:
“Stop doing that!”
“You’re giving me a headache!”
These types of vague instructions are so normal in parenting, but they don’t give us much luck with getting our kids to listen to us. In fact, do your kids sometimes even seem to do the exact opposite of what you are telling them to do? This can happen because they get distracted, or from not hearing us, (because I’m convinced that our voices start to sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown to our kids), or it might even be from plain disobedience. But there is another reason our children don’t do what we ask them to do, or might misbehave, and that stems from us not expressing our expectations clearly enough.
What are some of the rules or routines in your household that just don’t seem to be working for you? Are you wanting your teenagers to come home at a certain time and it’s just not happening? Do you want to have everyone come to the dinner table more efficiently when they are called? Or maybe with better attitudes about what is being served that day? Or do you want bedtime to be a smoother, more efficient process?
If you take a few minutes to think about it, most likely there is a policy in your home that just isn’t working for you. Or maybe you don’t even need to think about it and you could list five right now.
It is really important for us to identify these things that aren’t working, because before we are able to present our expectations to our children, we need to become clear with ourselves with what we want from them. So, we really gotta think it through. What exactly would you like dinner to look like? How about bedtime?
One of the first things I do when I’m coaching moms is I have them dream a little bit about how they would like to see things going. Because even if their vision doesn’t occur to the extent they imagine, it will still make for hugely positive things that happen in their family system.
So, once you are clear with your expectations, it’s time to try to make them clear for your children. If you’re like me, I feel like I do a pretty good job at getting my point across to my kids. But to my surprise, sometimes they still act as if they have no idea what’s going on. So I’m going to give you a few pointers on how you can relay your expectations successfully to your children.
First, you want to be sure to stay on the subject of what is to be learned. For example, if you’re clarifying bedtime, try not to also bring in what is going to happen in the morning when they wake up the next day and what you guys are going to do in the morning. I am famous for this: jumping all over the place when I talk to my kids. When it pops into my head, I just say it, even though we were just talking about something that I wanted to make clear to them. And then all of a sudden everything becomes jumbled, unclear, and confusing. So, really try to stay on the subject of what you want them to learn.
After you explain things to them, second, you want to ask them clarifying questions to make sure they understand. Try to stay away from “yes or no” questions, because yes or no questions just don’t make them have to think enough. Try to start with “What” questions. “What” is always a great way to ask open-ended questions. So maybe instead of asking, “When I tell you it’s bedtime, are you going to go straight upstairs and brush your teeth first?” You can say, “What is the first thing you’re going to do when I tell you it’s bedtime?” And you can also keep going and say, “And what are you going to do next?” And “How much time do you have for everything until you need to be in your bed?” Or something like that. So asking those clarifying questions really makes the kids have to think and reflect back to you what you had just told them that you expected.
And the last thing that will help really relay those clear expectations to your children is to role-play. This is a super fun way for younger kids to really understand what you want, and it’s actually effective for teenagers too, if you can just get past their eye-rolling.
For example, if coming to dinner with good attitudes and trying a few bites of the food without complaining is the expectation, perhaps you can role-play a few times, practicing what bad attitudes might look like. And they can get all of their grumbles and complaints out in the name of fun and not get in trouble for it because you’re just role-playing. And then, you can have them role-play what you expect their good attitudes to look like. This part is powerful because this is where the real training can come in.
I mean, we tell our kids all the time, You need to have a good attitude, but a lot of times they don’t know exactly what that means, or what we want from them exactly. They don’t know what a good attitude really looks like. So this part, where you have them role-play what you want them to do, is so beneficial for getting your expectations clear in their minds. You could really get creative with this role-playing and make it so fun for the kids. And the teenagers!
So this is the first C of Successful Parenting: setting those Clear Expectations. And I know it sounds like it’s a lot of work just to do one of the C’s and take all of this time to get across your clear expectations. But I promise you, all of the time you spend explaining, asking, clarifying and role-playing will really really pay off.
Once you are absolutely certain that they understand, then you can present them with the consequences for compliance or non-compliance with these expectations. And we’ll get into that next time when we talk about the second C of Successful Parenting: Consequences.
Thank you so much for joining me today. And remember: Be clear and specific when setting up expectations or your child.
Talk to you next week!
If you would like to learn more about The Mommy Whisperer or would like to sign up for a free mini coaching call with me, please head on over to my website at The-MommyWhisperer.com.