Setting Realistic Goals & Expectations

Setting Realistic Goals & Expectations. Episode #11 - Raising Kids Who Can Cope

Episode #11 in the “Raising Kids Who Can Cope” Series

Click arrow to listen to the 90-second podcast.

We all want to raise kids who are emotionally and socially intelligent and are able to recover from disappointment to grow stronger every day into adulthood

Having realistic goals and expectations for your child will allow them to experience success and feel personally valuable, while setting expectations for your child that may be too high could bring disappointment and cause low self-esteem.

A good way to do a check of your expectations for your child is to start with learning a bit about child development.  Figure out where your child is at this stage of development, so that you know what they should or could be capable of doing.  This will help you keep your expectations realistic, and not too high or too low.

You could also ask yourself a few questions like, “Why do I have this expectation?”, “Is it based on my wishes or my child’s needs?”, “What purpose does it serve?”, or “Am I being fair?”  This will help you focus on the expectations that have real meaning for your child at his or her stage of development.

The long-term effects of setting realistic goals and expectations for your child are numerous, but setting attainable goals and building healthy self-esteem are things that will turn children into confident teens and responsible adults.

Additional Resources:

University of Michigan: Developmental Stages in Your Child
Washington State Child Development Guide

Raising Kids Who Can Cope is a 28-part series developed to build skills, knowledge and awareness in adults who play a role in young people’s lives. It is brought to you by Jackson County UW-Extension and Together for Jackson County Kids. Find out more at Raising Kids Who Can Cope.


Nelson, P. T. (Ed) (2012). Self-esteem grows with realistic expectations in Families Matter! A Series for Parents of School- Age Youth. Newark, DE: Cooperative Extension, University of Delaware. (Pat Tanner Nelson, Ed.D. Extension Family & Human Development Specialist, Adapted from materials prepared for Cooperative Extension and from Working Mother.)

National PTA.

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