Expecting too much? Expecting too little? Both can be wounding. “It’s tough for parents to find the right balance between acceptance and challenge,” says Linda Wagener. “Some parents expect too much in one area, such as high marks in school or athletic performance, and too little in another, such as how you treat other people. Or parents will expect too little from one particular child, often the baby of the family.”
According to Wagener, low expectations tell a child that his parents don’t think he can succeed. Children whose parents expect too little don’t see themselves as competent. Often they will act as though everything needs to be done for them.”
Children who give in to feelings of worthlessness either become depressed and guilt-ridden, or decide to live up to their parent’s low expectations by failing or becoming rebellious or disobedient. Children who try to fight off feelings of worthlessness turn to the substitute of perfectionism or performance. The bottom line–when expectations are low, kids don’t achieve much.