We hear it almost every day.  We hear from visiting therapists, parents, bus drivers, even teachers from other schools; “Why do they work so well for you?!”  The answer is very simple, and it piggybacks right off presuming competence, we expect nothing less from those we serve.

So often we see others assuming those we serve need things done for them.  Or they make excuses for needing to do it because it’s actually easier and faster to just do it for them.  The problem is, when you’re willing to do it for them, they will take full advantage – and who wouldn’t?!  These expectations don’t have to be something large – they can be small everyday activities.

Let’s look at something as mundane as carrying a backpack.  So often we have new students who start the day off with mom or dad carrying their backpack inside for them and we have to say, “Mom, he is perfectly capable of carrying his own backpack.”  We see bus drivers who learn to tell teachers the same thing, “They don’t carry that for him at Henderson Haven!”  Why would something so small be so important?  Because it’s only where we start.

We EXPECT good behavior.  We EXPECT work to be finished before play time.  We EXPECT others to be treated kindly.  And more often than not, we get exactly what we expect.  And the truth is, everyone gets exactly what they expect.  Am I saying we get what we expect 100% of the time?  Of course not!  And there’s going to be push back, especially when they’ve never experienced that before.  But there’s nothing like a proud look on their face once they realize they can meet the expectations others have for them.

Too many programs, because they don’t presume any competence, have no expectations – or the wrong ones – and therefore fall back on the idea that we must train, not teach.  We believe this can be detrimental in the long run.  Having appropriate expectations has many positive results that continue throughout their lives:

Building Confidence

Setting expectations provides children with a framework for achievement. When kids know what is expected of them, they are more likely to feel confident in their abilities to meet those expectations. This boost in self-confidence can have a significant impact on their overall development.

Encouraging Responsibility

Expectations teach kids responsibility from an early age. When they understand that certain tasks or goals are expected of them, they learn to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. This early exposure to responsibility can help prepare them for adulthood.

Fostering a Growth Mindset

Having expectations can encourage a growth mindset in children. They come to view challenges as opportunities for growth rather than as obstacles. When kids are expected to tackle challenging tasks, they learn to persevere, adapt, and develop problem-solving skills.

Setting Goals and Aspirations

Expectations serve as benchmarks for achievement. They help children set goals and aspirations for themselves. When kids have clear expectations, they are more likely to strive for success, both academically and in other areas of life.

Developing a Strong Work Ethic

Expectations instill a strong work ethic in children. When kids are expected to complete their schoolwork, chores, or extracurricular activities, they learn the value of hard work and dedication. These qualities are crucial for success in any endeavor.

Improving Academic Performance

Having academic expectations can significantly impact a child’s performance in school. When parents and teachers set high standards for academic achievement, children are more likely to put in the effort required to excel in their studies. This, in turn, can lead to better grades and a deeper love of learning.

Encouraging Healthy Competition

Healthy competition can be a powerful motivator for kids. When they have expectations to meet, they often push themselves to outperform their peers. This friendly competition can spur academic and personal growth.

Enhancing Communication Skills

Expectations also improve communication skills. Children learn to express their thoughts, ideas, and concerns when they are expected to do so. This ability to communicate effectively is essential for building strong relationships and succeeding in various social contexts.

Preparing for the Real World

Ultimately, setting expectations for children prepares them for the real world. In adulthood, individuals are expected to meet various responsibilities, both personal and professional. By instilling a sense of responsibility and a strong work ethic in children from a young age, we equip them with the tools they need to thrive in the adult world.

It’s clear that having expectations can greatly benefit kids. Expectations provide structure, foster growth, and prepare children for the challenges and responsibilities of adulthood. When set thoughtfully and with consideration for a child’s unique abilities and needs, expectations can be a powerful tool for nurturing well-rounded, confident, and successful individuals.