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Parenting Guide Sheets
3. Goals & Expectations (1)

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Introduction to this Page

This page builds on the previous one. If you have come to these pages via the Contents page and have succumbed to the temptation to jump straight here, may we recommend you pause up and go back to page 2 and take in the very foundational issues that are covered there.

Right, we assume you have been through Page 2 where we considered how the mother can even influence the baby while it is still in the womb.  That followed the concept of the ‘blank slate’ and the idea that from the moment of birth you will be involved in everything your child learns in the months and years to come. You may have to leave your child with grandparents or carers but do make sure YOU still have adequate opportunities to input into your child’s life.  

Modern studies do seem to indicate that children left in nurseries can develop well, but if you are able to be available to be with your child in these early days you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have been the person who mostly contributed to their early learning and will be able to look back at the joy that came with that.  But a question that arose near the end of the previous people, is “What are we aiming for with our children?”  Is it natural or unnatural to work at goals to create a child of our desiring? What is the balance between their uniqueness – who they are in themselves -  and teaching and training and helping them to develop? These are the questions for this page and the following one.

On this page we first look at a general goal and then move on to consider the things that appear to make your child who they are and debate whether we should or could change them.  In that we will consider traits and temperaments.

On the next page we will take this on to consider the developmental stages that are considered normal and then discuss how we may join in the process to help our children move on healthily and develop.

1. What are you aiming for?
2. Traits & Temperaments
3. A matter of Belief in You

1. What are you aiming for?

Are you likely to be putting your child under pressure if you have goals in your mind for them? No, not at long as you don’t get obsessive about it.  Having goals and understanding your child’s development, simply means you can ensure they get the best you can give them (and that has nothing to do with buying them expensive presents!!!!)

A simple goal might be:  

      “to raise a happy, healthy, confident, co-operative, responsible child who develops into rounded maturity”

Let’s check out each of those things:

Happy – having the capability of enjoying being themselves, enjoying the family, enjoying others, and enjoying life generally.

Healthy – physically (with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle), emotionally (not fearful or constantly worried), mentally (alert, questioning, considering and thoughtful) and socially (able to interact well with others.)

Confident – if the first two are applied well then it is likely that your child will also be confident. Confidence enables your child to face the future and face challenges of life with a positive attitude.

Co-Operative – we all have to live out our lives interacting with authorities (teachers, police, government etc.) and with others generally, learning that life is made up of give and take, rights and responsibilities, care and compassion, not demanding but giving. In these ways our child will not only enjoy living in this world, but will also become a valued member of whatever community he or she is part of.

Responsible – a frequent failure in people is the failure to take responsibility for who we are and how we act in this world. Actions always have consequences and the wise parent conveys that to their child as they develop, aware that the world will demand it of them in their adult years. Perhaps learned concepts of justice and fairness and equality will be conveyed here.

Developing – ‘growing up’ implies developing, going through stages of growth. Developing means moving on from one stage to another.  To grow up, means to go through one stage to the next and not get stuck at any particular stage.    

Rounded Maturity – maturity suggest that we have largely come to a point where we cease developing. Although that is true physically, we (can) continue to grow and develop mentally, emotionally and socially throughout our lives. Maturity for these latter three things implies reaching a stage of competence where we are at ease coping with the demands made upon us by society in each of those areas. (It is arguable that we can develop each of those areas through our whole lives, even having reached competence)

Those are perhaps simply some starting places for thinking about what you hope your child will grow into. Many of us don’t think about these things because if we do we realise that we have a part to play in bringing them about, but as a simple easy and general approach, this, we suggest, is quite a reasonable approach to seeing how we may help our children develop.

2. Traits & Temperaments

Now before we move on we need to make a distinction between
 things that appear either fixed or fairly static, and which may stay the same in a healthy individual, and
 the things that change as the child grows, develops and ages.

Temperament is usually considered to be the sum of our individual characteristics (traits) which tend to lead to particular ways of thinking acting and feeling, and is closely linked with personality. It emphasises those things which appear to be inborn or inherited, that we referred to in Page 2, although some do suggest they also form or come about with life experiences.  You’ll see why in a moment we need to consider these things.

Different psychologists have come up with different ideas about personality but to make life easy, we would suggest the two following guiding principles in respect of traits and temperaments:

i) they are what is observable at the moment in an individual
ii) they are not fixed and can change with time.

(We are aware that not all will agree with these statements, and we provide means of dealing with alternative views in a moment)

Thus when we speak about people, we note that some are active, some are quiet, some need much sleep, some little, some like people, some like being alone.

Continue to Part 2 of this Page

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