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issue 2 MARCH 1999 / BACK
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Faulty expectations

Kathy Mitchell

O'Grady says: Go somewhere quiet, sit down for ten minutes, pick up a pencil.

Kathy Mitchell says: Burn-out often has a lot to do with our expecting all the wrong things as child care workers. Look at these ten examples and try to get real about some of your faulty expectations.

  1. Expectations for the kids
    My presence will make all the difference in the world to the kids in my care.
  2. Expectations for oneself
    By performing services for the kids I will not only bring about change for them but I will also enhance my own status and recognition by others.
  3. Expectations of simple solutions
    Enthusiastic workers apply superficial remedies hoping to change long-standing and deeply ingrained patterns of coping. (A psychologist commented: “I used to think that people would change if you just spoke to them reasonably... I had no idea how much people resist change.")
  4. Expectations of universal success
    When we enter the field we do not realise that we will not be able to reach every child – nor that some kids will not be helped no matter who works with them.
  5. Expectations of immediate success
    We have a few tricks up our sleeve; we think we know just the solution for this problem. We need to learn to accept that problems which have built up over years cannot be solved in a day.
  6. Expectations of client motivation
    Many of us extend ourselves in helping others – without stopping to ask whether they really want to be helped.
  7. Expectations of control
    "I will be able to socialise them into behaviour which creates less anxiety for them" – together with “Of course they will respect my authority."
  8. Expectations of appreciation
    People who do things for others think that they will naturally be appreciated by the people they help. But appreciation requires that the kids agree that the services we perform are beneficial.
  9. Expectations of specific, concrete tasks
    I will be told exactly what to do in order to carry out my day-to-day tasks. I will be taught – and will be able to learn – all of the theory and skills I need.
  10. Expectations of a rewarding work environment
    I will work in a creative and supporting team. Not for me having to learn to cope in such conditions as isolation, confusion, loneliness, tension, divided responsibility.

How did you score? Feel any better?

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