LIVINGSTON: Expect success from your children

When I was a student in grade school, middle school and high school, I had homework and studying to do every night — and I did it. My parents didn’t ask me each night if I had homework because they knew I did and they expected I would do it.
Apr 12, 2013


Coming from a family of seven children, there were many distractions and others besides me doing homework at the kitchen table. We had mom and dad and each other, but most importantly we had the expectation in our home that you did your homework and you did it well, no matter what. 

Kids today aren’t that much different than we were. They still live up to the expectations of the adults around them, good or bad. 

When my parents told me I was good at reading and writing, I must have sat up a little taller during reading class because I felt empowered to be good at it.

One of my sisters was known for being better in math than the rest of us, and she remained good at it all the way through school. Was this because she really was gifted in math? Or was it because of the expectation that she was?

In a 2012 Psychology Today article, we’re reminded that our expectations about ourselves changes our behavior, which shapes the way others see us. In turn, others provide the feedback we’ve set ourselves up to get, which serves to reinforce the original belief.

For example, if my parents had told me during my elementary years that I was good at math, might I have excelled in that area as much as language arts? One can only guess I might have thought better about my math skills. 

It works like this: Our beliefs and thoughts about ourselves become our words, and our words become our actions, which impact how others think of us and how they treat us. This, of course, reinforces what we believe about ourselves and eventually becomes our destiny.

Now, this doesn’t mean a student can become a genius just because we tell  him/her that he/she is, but it does mean that our expectations influence motivation, engagement and learning.

So, think how your child might grow if you plant positive expectations and set the example for them every day. Isn’t that where it all begins?

— Valerie Livingston is principal of Mary A. White Elementary School.


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