I’ve been thinking about how unrealistic society’s expectations are on babies & children, and the fact that I think that there are some unpleasant consequences. I mean how confusing is it, to expect a toddler to behave maturely as quickly as possible, but then to be outraged because at 10 they want to be adults! There was all that hoo-hah about Holly on Britain’s Got Talent, because she was given a second chance at singing (which she rocked, plus the next night – proving that she was a little professional). Some people seemed to think that at 10, she should have the emotional maturity to understand that ‘there are no second chances’, plus have all the experience of a 40yr old at handling stressful situations – phewy! It is well known that as humans, we take a very long time to mature and grow physically, emotionally and mentally. Initially weeks can make a big difference, then it is months, then it is quarters, then six months, eventually years, and finally, there is probably little difference between a 100yr old and a 120yr old! So there is a big difference between 10, 11, 12 etc. Plus, each child matures each bit of itself at a different speed. We can’t expect them to all grow uniformly at the same rate. Therefore we can’t expect them to all be able to handle the same things at the same age e.g. performing on BGT.
So when you are worrying about your child and what they are or are not doing. Double check your expectations.
Are you expecting a 6 week old baby to sleep through the night? Maybe you could do with checking the stats on how many don’t. Are you irritated by the trantrums of your toddler? Have you read up on how difficult it is to learn to manage our emotions and ways of helping them? Is your child refusing to go to bed immediately you tell them too? Have you explained it to them in terms of what they care about e.g. racing, adventures, reading, cuddles etc or in terms of what you care about i.e. getting them to bed in time to maintain their health and your sanity? Are you infuriated by a teen who just growls? Did you know that the wiring in their brain means that they are less capable of recognising emotions in faces than toddlers?
By the way, this rule works for other people as well! Are you expecting your husband to understand the ramifications of having a baby in the early months? Sorry, many take at least a year to really get their head around it. Are you upset because your old friends don’t seem interested in hearing about Poo? Poo conversations are for your new Mum friends, not the singles!
Having realistic expectations of yourself, your partner, your kids, your friends, your family and your work mates, will make your life so much easier, and much less painful!
How do you do it?
– Knowledge – The internet will tell you anything and be way more up to date than any book. So if you want to find out about baby/child/teen development, it is there, right at your finger tips.
– Ask people! – Talk to other people and get a fair comparison – then you’ll realise there probably isn’t as much difference as you thought.
– Find out what those people/children value – I’ve just done a podcast about values (see http://www.Mummywhisperer.com), and am bound to blog about it really soon. Find out what they like, where they like it, how, why and when. When you understand someone’s values, you can have realistic expectations. Because they will always be loyal to their values.