Poor Expectations Among Parents May Encourage Adolescent Misbehavior

There are numerous stereotypes associated with teenagers. The idea that all or most teenagers engage in forbidden or risky behavior, including underage drinking and smoking, is prevalent throughout society, but this very prevalence may be adding to occurrences of mental health issues and related distress among teens. A study conducted at Wake Forest University has recently found that those teenagers whose mothers expected them to take part in high-risk activities were in fact more likely to do so. The study also found that teens who expected poor performance from themselves acted consistently with the expectation a year later. The research highlights the idea of the self-fulfilling prophesy and may encourage more positive expectations among parents.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Keats Thomas

    Keats Thomas

    October 23rd, 2009 at 2:29 AM

    Well, its quite obvious…if you keep tauntin a teen about him probably drinkin, he would think- I am anyway being accused of it, so why not try it…?

    This can be quite dangerous to both, the parents and the child. More natured behavior is expected of the parents.

  • Jerald


    October 23rd, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    A good comment and encouragement followed by an advice is better recieved than a threat or scolding a child any day… parents need to understand that as adolescents, kids love doing things that they are asked not to… so, parents should convince them in a better and matured manner instead of trying to force things on their kids.

  • Rae G

    Rae G

    October 24th, 2009 at 9:26 AM

    Kids are only going to live up for the expectations that you have for them. If you set those expectations low, then why are they going to try any harder to beat those? That is the only example that they have. Shame on parents who set their kids up for failure like this.

  • Julie


    October 29th, 2009 at 6:37 PM

    When I was a young adult, early married, I met a woman with two girls. Over the years I watched her with her girls and noted to her one day that she was the only parent I knew who go along well with her girls as teens. She told her her secret: long ago she decided that the teen years were going to be an exciting time where her girls would come into their own and she was looking forward to that time. As I thought about it, ll others I’d known talked about the coming teen years dread with a sense of dread! She taught me to anticipate it being a good time, an exciting time. I did and consequently my children’s teen years were a smooth and connected time. I think we get what we anticipate .. we put the expectation into the universe and that’s what comes back. Our children get the subtle (and not so subtle) message of our expectations and live into them. Thanks for the article.

  • Rita


    November 7th, 2009 at 4:19 AM

    Julie made a lot of sense. I think its nice to be friends with your children. we dont like to take a walk into ourselves. children sometimes sound a lot like our conscience and that is not what we want.

  • alexis


    November 7th, 2009 at 4:35 AM

    I dont believe in rewards or threats. I have always parented my children on principles and values. I think when they have a moral code in place, everything in life finds a place.

  • Liam


    November 7th, 2009 at 5:20 AM

    My aunt was instrumental in my cousin running away with the school bully. She is a single mother today and ruined her education and life. Parents should learn to trust a facet of themselves – their children.

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