As parents, we all believe that our child is special (which they are!) however, that doesn’t mean that all children are capable of achieving the same goals within the same time frame. Over the last few years, behavioral experts and parents have frequently discussed the potential positives and negatives about implementing high expectations into the framework for encouraging and motivating children. This motivation can encompass everything from music lessons, to practice and recitals, to other areas of achievement. Although the evidence suggests that children are more likely to succeed when presented with high expectations from parental figures – many guardians worry that too much pressure could lead their children to feel inadequate, or somehow deficient.
A study published by the Harvard Family Research Project implies that high expectations may lead to high performance, and it’s not the only study that has suggested this. Indeed, over the years, research has suggested that when parents set high expectations for their children it helps propel those children towards certain goals. However, that doesn’t mean that every parent should set the same expectations – each child is different and the expectations placed on them should align with their capabilities. After all, “high” expectations for one child may not be the same for another. Let’s discover why setting realistic, musical expectations are so important.
Find an Appropriate Pace and Level for Learning
Though it may be beneficial to remind your child that you expect nothing less than the best from him or her, it’s important to ensure that you do not set the bar unreasonably high. Determining appropriate goals to set for your child starts with looking at their specific capabilities. In other words, you cannot weigh your expectations for your child according to the skills of their classmates – or even their siblings.
In order to effectively set the bar for your child, it’s important to understand both their strong and weak points. The goal should be to motivate the youngster from the moment they select their very first musical instrument. If, for example, your child is particularly good in a certain area of his or her musical education, then you may want to zero in on that area and reinforce that your expectations are high in this regard. On the other hand, if your child struggles with reading sheet music or playing a certain song, then you should still set expectations, but perhaps give a little more leeway with room for them to try and fail until they get it right.
Similarly, remember that it’s important to set short-term goals, as well as establish long-term ambitions. It’s always nice to speak to your child about what you hope they will achieve in the future with their musical talents – but learning how to tackle that next challenging note or song is just as important.
Focus On Your Child – Recognize Success & Setbacks
When you’re laying down expectations for your child’s musical future, it’s important to ensure that your focus remains entirely on the things that are important to your child, and your child’s wellbeing. Insisting that your child works harder at practicing for a recital that they’re determined to excel in is beneficial. On the other hand, pushing your child toward excellence so that they can pursue a career in music – when that’s not something they’re interested in – could be detrimental. Setting expectations for your child’s musical education, and the benefits they can obtain from those lessons, is about encouraging them to achieve something that holds weight for them.
What’s more, when setting realistic expectations for the future, remember that it’s crucial to recognize the successes and the setbacks. If your child manages to impress his or her music teacher during a lesson, or hits a particularly difficult note in a song, then celebrate that achievement! There are few things more motivational than the pride and joy of a parent. At the same time, if they mess something up, or struggle to overcome a particular hurdle – don’t ignore the problem. Look at the problematic area and encourage your child to address the issue and learn from it. Handling failures in a positive way is a great skill for learning music and excelling in life.
Adjustments Are Normal
Finally, bear in mind that the expectations you set for your child may not remain the same all of the time. Circumstances may mean that your expectations need to change. For instance, if your daughter is suffering with a throat infection, she might not be able to project her voice perfectly at her next performance. We can expect a lot from our children, but we also have to accept that factors beyond our control can play a big part between the outcome of one class, recital, or performance, to the next.