Developmental Asset #16: High Expectations

Young people do well when they are expected to do well. Parents and teachers alike should hold teens to high standards of achievement and behaviour. Expect the best from your kids – if you expect them to work hard and achieve, then they probably will. Here are some other ways you can take action.


  1. Give spontaneous rewards with no strings attached, rather than bribes. For example, instead of “We’ll go see a movie if you finish your assignment,” you could say, “You finished your assignment? Great! There’s still time for us to catch a movie, let’s go!”


  1. Praise your children for their abilities and achievements. The more able they feel, the more likely they are to take on new challenges and set ambitious goals for themselves. Don’t worry about praise “going to their heads”.


  1. Set goals together. Make them simple, concrete, and doable, and follow through with your kids. Did they meet their goals?


  1. Be conscious of how stressful Junior High and High School can be, and monitor your teen’s stress levels. Stress reactions vary – some students run themselves ragged when they demand too much of themselves, and others decide that schoolwork is a waste of their time and try to skate by with the bare minimum. Talk earnestly with them about how to make the most of their education.


Search Institute has identified 40 building blocks of healthy development, known as Developmental Assets, that help adolescents to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Visit us here every Wednesday to read about different ways that you, your family, and your community can take action to help equip our young people develop resilience and achieve success in life.