4 Ideas for Long-term Goal Setting
We do it every year. Every January we set ourselves a new goal, new year’s resolution, we make plans of where we want to be this time next year and then by February we have forgotten about it, gotten side tracked or fallen into last year’s old habits. For many parents, even with the very best intentions they find themselves still in ‘crisis mode’ struggling to shift perspective from short term to long term focus.
When it comes to child development and in particular neurological conditions. I believe it is important to come from a perspective that helps us reach our ultimate outcome, our long-term goal for children that actually improves their quality of life. I have talked many times before about shifting focus from short term to long term focus, this time I want to give you some actual ideas of what you could work on that focuses on long-term developmental goals that actually improve quality of life.
1. Social opportunities to enhance competence in interaction and relationship– the first relationship between parent and child is the best and safest place to practice social interactions. Setting goals that you can work on together in your guiding relationship will be of the most benefit moving forward in whatever you choose to focus on next.
2. Friendships – remember for friendships to be truly established there are various foundations that need to be in place. So if friendships are your goal ensure you have some basics such as experience sharing, joint attention, co-regulation, flexibility and dynamic intelligence underway.
3. Communication is always something that needs work on, whether that be improving your communication and/ or supporting the natural development of your child’s communication. Remember we always want children to be effective communicators in whatever method of communication they use. This means that we also need to ensure we are providing an all-round approach to communication and not just focusing on one element such as vocabulary. We need to focus on verbal, non-verbal communication, experience sharing communication or declarative communication as well as modelling and developing dynamic communication. Communication is important for social situations, interactions, friendships and more and starts with how we are using our communication as parent guides.
4. Emotional / self-regulation can make a big difference to ability to thinking dynamically and make wise choices. When we are coming from a calm place it enables us to make decisions that help us to grow. When we are in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze it becomes a real challenge to learn anything. Recognising triggers, finding calming strategies and being familiar with the tools that work for your child to de-escalate and emotionally self-regulate is important work for now and sets them up well for the future too, as they continue to find new ways and levels of self-regulation through new situations that arise.
For many parents, you may be experiencing a need to address all four areas (and more) but no need to overwhelm yourself (this is often how things don’t happen), instead choose one that is either emerging (to make it easier to achieve) or one that needs a lot of work (to start breaking it down and making progress in the right direction). Of course, all of these areas need to be broken down into much smaller objectives to focus on and achieve what you are aiming for. But if you can at first identify what it is that you want to put your long-term focus/ attention on you will be in a much better position to set yourself a goal, break it down, find the support that you need to achieve it and find consistent commitments that you can follow that will lead you to this goal.
If you would like support in achieving any of these kinds of goals please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a complimentary call on how I can help you achieve this.