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Why realistic expectations is the key to happiness

Why having realistic expectations of what your kids will do makes life easier for you.

My two kids were building Duplo blocks together tonight before bed.

I was in another room, and about 10 minutes before my daughter's bedtime, I yelled "Time to clean up. I'm coming in 5 minutes, please put your blocks away!"

10 minutes later, I went to their room, only to find...the room was a mess. They had not cleaned up. In fact, they had taken out more toys, and were now chasing each other and throwing around stuffed toys.

But I wasn't really bothered. I had never expected them to clean up on their own. When I shouted at them to clean up, I already knew it was wishful thinking.

My expectations were low, which meant it was much easier for me to calmly talk to them and get them to finish up and help me clean up.

The things is, having realistic expectations of what your kids will do is one of the best ways to not get frustrated with them.

This might sound simple, or obvious. But it is so easy to forget this. When our kids are babies, we don't expect much from them. But as soon as they are able to walk and talk, we start to build up these unrealistic expectations about how they should act and behave.

And when they don't meet these unrealistic expectations, we get upset, frustrated, and angry.

This is one of the lessons that Dr. Anna Martin, a Clinical Therapist who recently completed her PhD thesis about the parent-child relationship, shared with me when I interviewed her a few weeks back:

We don’t realise how common it is for us to have unrealistic expectations of our children in our belief that they should do as they are told.

Dr. Anna Martin

In the interview, Dr. Martin shared two things to remember when dealing with your child that can help you have a more realistic expectation of what your kids will do, and help you become less frustrated when your children don't act the way you want them to act.

Remembering these two things has helped me stay calm several times over the past few weeks, when I would normally have gotten upset or frustrated with my kids.