Parental involvement during the goal setting phase is crucial. Primarily due to the reason that the same goals should be targeted and facilitated at home. Setting goals, however, can be a challenging task, as there are innumerous behaviors or changes that you would like to see in your child. To make it easier, here are the 5 main things every parent should know while setting goals.
1. Expectations are different from goals: Every parent may have expectations from their child; however, your expectations should not precede goal attainment. Identify the areas that are problematic or difficult for your child and set goals accordingly. Goals are the stepping stones to achieving your child’s maximum potential and may take a lot of time and practice.
2. Set realistic, achievable goals: This is of great importance for developing your child’s confidence and to develop motivation towards therapy. Only when a child perceives therapy as interesting and useful will they be an active participant. For example, a child when he learns to crawl may realize that he is able to reach for his toys, in turn making him motivated to learn more. Duration is also an essential factor as no child has the patience to try the skill for more than three months. Therefore when framing goals, we should ensure that they are achievable in minimum duration of time.
3. Goals will have sub-goals: Consider a child who has not developed appropriate writing skills. Naturally this is taken up as a goal. Now, the important point to realize in this goal is that, in order to develop writing a child should develop various other skills. Each of these skills is considered as a sub-goal. Parents should have a clear understanding about the various sub-goals, to help you monitor your child’s progress.
4. Prioritize their needs and yours: Every therapist takes into consideration your requirements. As said before, goal attainment needs time, practice and solely depends on your child’s speed and ability to learn. Therefore, prioritize your needs and decide on the tasks that are beneficial for both the child and you. Between eating independently and learning to write, which do you consider more important? The decision is yours.
5. Goals are tailor made: Every child is unique, so are their goals. What works for one child may not be suited for the other. Therefore each goal is planned bearing in mind YOUR child’s abilities, needs and weaknesses. Also goals are subjective to changes or revision depending on your child’s progress.
Sarah Mary Joseph
Sr. Occupational Therapist
Prayatna, Centre for Child Development, Cochi