Really. Trust your child. Just try it.

Trust that he or she is doing the very best they possibly can under the circumstances. They are calling none of the shots. They have few rights and zero power. Not to mention their under-developed brains and emotional volatility.

Seriously, we need to cut ourselves, and our kids, some slack. This will seem like bad advice in our overachiever culture, but here goes: Lower your standards.

Really, try it. Your expectations are likely off anyway. If you’re going by your own memory of things, the likelihood of accuracy is low. You’re sure you learned how to be a good loser when you were four and your sister won eight games of Trouble in a row, but that was probably the time you ended up under the kitchen table crying. You didn’t actually learn that lesson until you were closer to eight. You think you were five when you learned to swim, but you were really just walking on your hands in the kiddie pool. You’re sure you were able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and really empathize in fourth grade, but really you didn’t get that lesson 100% until, wait, did you ever fully get that one?

Alan Kazdin confirms that our expectations are way too high in his article: Why Can’t Johnny Jump Tall Buildings? I love this particular quote: “When we enforce unreasonable expectations, and especially when we punish according to them, we put stress on kids, who respond by avoiding, escaping, and becoming irritable. Ironically, that puts them off whatever activity, skill, or virtue we’re trying to inculcate, making it aversive rather than attractive.” See what we do: Self-fulfilling prophesy! We all need to lighten up! posted a great graphic that said: “Lighten up. Kids will make mischief. People get upset in life. Conflict happens. You can keep it moving!”

How about a self-fulfilling prophesy of another sort? One that trusts in the inherent goodness of children. Let’s assume that our child is doing their best with the tools and brainpower they’ve got. Let’s aim to inspire situational awareness instead of blind obedience. How about an I-know-you-can-do-it type prophesy? Or an I-trust-you-to-remember-on-your-own prophesy. Wait a minute before you nag or prompt. Does it really matter if they say “please” EVERY time? Be patient! They will say it, they will learn.

Be patient—that’s what we are always telling them. We should try it ourselves.

Trust your child. Lower your expectations. Relax.

She is a good kid. He will do the right thing. Mistakes are how humans learn. Get out of the way. Assume the best and trust your child.