Do you start each day with an expectation of how the day will go? Do you know that on Mondays it's harder to find a parking spot and it all goes downhill from there? Do you know that your boss is out of town and it's going to be a relaxed day because of that? Or that you have to meet with your most annoying student or most demanding client so the day is just going to stink? Do you rank your expectations? I do. I can expect anything from Fabulous (10) or Horrid (0) or maybe something in-between.
Educators used to talk about the self-fulfilling prophecy theory a lot. This theory asserts that our
expectations change our behavior. As in, if you believe you will fail, you will fail. There have been many, many studies, including the famous one where teachers were told that certain randomly selected students were expected to really "blossom" during the coming school year. The randomly chosen students ended the year showing significant improvement.
I believe that most of the time I get exactly what I expect. If I expect kids to be bored with today's lesson, they will most likely be bored. If I expect to enjoy an event, I most likely will. If I expect this child or that parent to give me a hard time, chances are they will.
Take out your expectations for your own children and look at them. What do you expect from your child? Do you expect them to be loving and kind and gentle? Do you expect them to make you proud or to disappoint you? Your expectations are impacting your child's behavior even if you aren't saying them aloud. Wow. That's as magical as eyes in the back of your head. If I tell a child repeatedly that she is no good, you can bet that she will turn out that way. Your expectations will have been met. What if you tell the child that he is someone special, created in the image of God, and that he is going to do something that is important someday? Well, I believe he will meet your expectations!
So, back to ranking your expectations for the day, I want to suggest a little experiment. Tonight, before you go to bed, take a post-it note and write down your most realistic expectation of tomorrow (0-10 with 10 being best). When you go to bed tomorrow night, make note of how the day actually went and then try to predict the following day. Pick your number, increase it by one, and write it on another post-it and see if adjusting your expectation will adjust your outcome. If you're a journal-keeper, you will be able to have fun with this for several weeks. If this experiment persuades you that there's something to this idea, then start setting some good expectations around your kids. Expect them to blossom, to surprise, even to amaze you. They will.