Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Evan. Evan Wonders, “Why do parents have expectations?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Evan!

Do you like to play sports? Do you spike a volleyball? Kick a soccer ball? Maybe you’d rather throw a football! Playing team sports can help you stay healthy. It’s also a chance to build social skills that make you a more well-rounded person.

If you do play sports, though, you may have felt stressed from time to time. That’s especially common during games. Have you ever felt pressure from the sidelines? Coaches, parents, and even friends can place unrealistic expectations upon you. This can make it hard to do your best.

Is it a bad thing for others to have high expectations of you? Not necessarily! Sometimes they’re just showing they believe in you. When expectations are unrealistic, though, they are impossible to meet. In these cases, they can have a negative effect. They might hurt your self-esteem or make you feel discouraged.

Can expectations affect you in a positive way, though? You bet they can! A researcher named Robert Rosenthal first studied the phenomenon in 1964. He carried out an experiment at an elementary school near San Francisco. First, he selected a group of students at random. Then, he told teachers at the school that those students were highly likely to succeed. He said the students’ IQs would rise sharply in the coming years.

Then, Rosenthal followed the children for two years. He found that, when teachers expected these kids to do well, that’s exactly what happened. He concluded that teachers’ higher expectations affected the students’ learning.

The next question was obvious: Why? Rosenthal found that higher expectations affected the teachers’ interactions with these students. For example, they gave these kids more time to respond to questions. They also gave more specific feedback and more support. The students were also given more opportunities and more approval from their teachers.

In a nutshell, Rosenthal found that the teachers acted differently toward students when they held higher expectations for them. His results have been repeated in many other places. This includes the workplace, courtrooms, and medical settings. It is sometimes called the expectancy effect.

So what is the moral of the story? It’s important to hold high but realistic expectations for people. Start by getting to know those around you and understanding their goals and dreams. Then, support them by holding appropriately high expectations and showing you believe in them. And ask them to do the same for you! Everyone can benefit from the high expectations of their friends, families, and teachers.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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