Expecting Too Much?

February 09, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

February 8, 2017...I am amazed at how quickly life seems to fly by even after all my children have grown up and are out on their own. I look back and think about when I was in the middle of raising four beautiful children and often could not even think about the future. Life was too busy, and all I could think about was the 'now".

I still think about my children every day just not in the same way. They are all grown up now and on their own, but I often wonder if I ever expected too much from them.  Did my expectations match what they were truly capable of?


ZERO TO THREE is an early childhood resource group and recently conducted a survey. This survey found that most parents overestimate young children's abilities for self control, which is often referred to as the "expectation gap".

Having a realistic expectation for a child and his or her ability is so important for supporting their healthy development into adulthood in addition to minimizing stress in the family environment. Life for young parents is often very hectic as it is; so the less stress that can be added, the better.  If a parent has the incorrect expectation of a child's self control, that can lead to anger and frustration for the parent and for the child.

I think we have all been there at one time or another.

So, read on to see the results of the survey, and tell me what you think.

• 56 percent of parents believe kids have the impulse control to resist the desire to do something forbidden before age 3.

• 36 percent believe that kids under age 2 have this kind of self-control.

• 43 percent of parents think kids are able to share and take turns with other kids before age 2.

• 24 percent of parents believe kids have the ability to control their emotions, like resisting tantrums when they're frustrated, at 1 year or younger.

• 42 percent believe kids have this ability by 2 years.


• Self control actually develops between 3½ and 4 years, and takes even more years to be used consistently.

• Sharing skills develop between 3 to 4 years.

• Emotional control also won't develop until between 3½ and 4 years.

Unfortunetly, many parents still struggle with having enough patience for the children when their children lose control. Which in turn leads to them losing their patience and directing their frustration toward the child.


We all make mistakes and are not perfect. But, losing it and directing that anger toward your child is very unhealthy for you and for your child and his or her development. Keep the above truths in mind the next time your toddler or under three year old does something that you think he or she should have "known better about"!


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