There is a small percentage of kids who are capable of doing amazing things. Or so we seem to believe in developed countries. For instance, a 7-year old child started a non-profit organization and raised a million dollars. Some kids get accepted into Olympic training programs or get invited to the White House.
Yet we also believe culturally that the vast majority of kids cannot be expected to study for a math test or take out the garbage.
In the past, it is true that we asked too much of children working in coal mines, factories, or on farms. But in the last 20 years the pendulum has swung completely to the other side. We have such low expectations of kids that it’s easy for them to live up to what we’re asking them to do. Which in some cases is nothing.
Braun Research did a study where they asked over a thousand adults about the chores they had as kids. Can you guess how many of them had chores?
That same group of adults surveyed were also asked how many of them required chores of their kids. The response was startling. Only 28% of those people asked their own kids at that same age to do chores. Only 28 percent of them were requiring chores of their kids at the same ages that they were doing them themselves. I found myself asking why? Why can’t our kids do the same chores we did as kids?
Now think about your own kids and what you ask them to do around the house. What chores did you do at their age? What are their chores?
The truth of the matter is, we’re not expecting enough of our kids’ character. We’re focusing a lot on achievements but we’re not expecting them to be amazing people. Kids can behave with respect, with responsibility, with resilience and really make the world a better place – now and as adults.
I was invited to give a TED talk and presented this. “The Expectation Gap”.
I couldn’t have imagined the response I got from that one presentation, especially when the Today Show aired a portion of it! The underlying concept is simple – If you want your kids to grow up to be responsible, resilient, and respectful young adults, give them chores. So, I am challenging you as parents to ask more of kids, not less when it comes to their character. It’s the kids of today that are going to solve the big problems that we’re facing if we can close this expectation gap between the small, small percentage of kids that we think should do these amazing things and everybody else. If we can close the expectation gap for our kids’ character, they can grow up and solve all the other gaps that we’re worried about – the wealth gap, the health gap and the education gap. We can and we should expect more of the kinds of people our kids are, and they want to live up to our best expectations, so let’s ask your kids to do more.
I challenge you for the next week, ask more of your kids. Give them a few chores. If you need help getting started, read this and download my chore chart.