We just returned from a long weekend at the cottage. We had an amazing weekend and Hailey was so well behaved and a breeze to be around that I could hardly believe it.
There were many times, too many to count, where family members and friends commented on how well Hailey was behaved and how impressed they were with her. We heard numerous comments like this over a couple of days when finally I asked them what they meant.
I knew Hailey was behaving well but it couldn’t be that much different than any other baby.
The response I got was that she was sitting at the dinner table, eating like everyone else, not fussing, not making a mess. She was smiling and content.
They also went on to explain that they were impressed that she barely fussed when she fell and she was quite content amusing herself or interacting with everyone else.
I, of course, was beaming with pride. I love to hear how great my baby is.
But what it really got me thinking about is setting expectations.
We expect Hailey to be well behaved.
We expect that she won’t crumble to the ground like a pro soccer player every time she gets a little bump.
Is she well behaved and perfect all the time? Absolutely not! And that’s not really the point.
Does she always eat her dinner without smearing it all over herself or throwing it on the floor? Hahaha…I wish!
But what she has shown us over and over again is that when we expect certain behaviour, especially around other people, she meets or even exceeds our expectations.
We talked to Hailey for days leading up to our cottage trip about how she needed to listen to us, how it was going to be a long drive and it would be more pleasant for everyone if she would sleep through most of it. We explained that there were lots of dangers such as the water, or the deck with no railing, or simply the dirtiness of the cottage and she needed to listen to us and trust that what we were telling her was for her own good.
We also told her that the long car ride would be worth it because we were going to have a lot of fun swimming and hiking and visiting with family.
Even though she’s not even 15 months old I feel like her comprehension level is phenomenal. I suspect she doesn’t understand everything I say but I know she understands a lot more than I think.
It does me no good to keep her in the dark about what’s going on. I share my expectations. I describe what’s going to happen. I warn her that there may be things she’ll struggle with and I get excited describing the fun we’re going to have. I tell her how much I would appreciate it if she was easy going and flexible.
I have done this since she was born and the results have been impressive.
Children will live up to the expectations of their parents, whether those expectations are positive or negative.
What expectations are you setting for your child?