The Importance of Setting Parenting Goals

A couple of weeks ago we ran our first webinar, How to Help Your Child Achieve More in 2016.  We had an amazing turnout and received some really great feedback, so we thought we’d share some of the information and advice with everyone here on our blog!

We all set personal goals, especially at the beginning of the New Year. This is typically a time for reflection on the previous year and resolution for the upcoming year. We set goals in many different areas of our life – health, career, relationship – but we often fail to set goals for ourselves as parents.

Parenting Goals

What is a Parenting Goal?

A parenting goal is a goal focused on what you as a parent can do to help your child succeed more. What specific actions will YOU take to support your child’s strengths and weaknesses? How will you facilitate their development? What will the outcome look like? These are the types of questions we forget to ask ourselves, and even if we do, we often don’t take the time to write them out and plan them step-by-step. So that’s what we’re here to help with.

But first, why are parenting goals so important?

First and foremost, we truly believe that your child’s success starts with you, the parent. And here’s why. The way you show up every day, the actions you intentionally take, and the way you consciously parent in the midst of all of life’s obstacles and challenges has a direct impact on your child.

Second, in order to take care of your child and help them succeed, you must first take care of yourself and understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Parent goal-setting is one way of helping you truly assess the situation and your role within it. This reflective process allows you to focus on yourself and shift your mindset, which has a cascading effect on your whole family.

And finally, any change (whether that’s developing a strength or supporting a weakness) involves a certain level of change – both for you and your child. The problem with change is that we as humans are wired to resist it. The only way we can truly facilitate change is through repetition and consistency (i.e. we need a PLAN). Breaking down your goals into small actionable steps that you can take on a daily, weekly and monthly level will help you stay accountable as well as motivated towards reaching the “grand prize.”

4 Steps to Setting a Parent Goal

So what does setting a good parenting goal look like? How can you use the psychology of achievement to help your child achieve more this year? We believe there are 4 essential steps that you should take.

Step 1: What is the outcome?

The first set to setting a good parenting goal is to get very clear on what it is that you actually want to accomplish. Do you want your child to get better grades in math? Do you want to develop more trust with your teenager? Do you want to stop a bad behavior?  Once you can see what the end will look like for you and your child/family, then you can move onto setting a goal for YOURSELF.

Step 2: What is my parent goal?

Once you know what it is that you want to work on, now is the time to set a goal for yourself as a parent about how you will help your child grow, develop, succeed, or overcome challenges this year. What part of that outcome involves changing your own behavior? What can you personally do to support your child?

Step 3: What do I know about my child’s strengths and weaknesses?

Once you’ve identified your goal as a parent and before making a plan of action, you need to educate yourself about what it is that you’re dealing with. You need to understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses in order to understand what the best approach to helping them is.

One of the most comprehensive ways of obtaining this kind of information about your child’s strengths and weaknesses is through a psychoeducational assessment with a registered psychologist. If you’re serious about investing in your child, a psychoeducational assessment will help you understand where your child is in terms of cognitive, academic and social/emotional development compared to peers his or her age. It will also provide specific recommendations based on the results that you can then use to further refine your parent goals.

It’s also important to educate yourself at this stage about the specific developmental changes your child is going through. This is what we call the Brain First Approach – something we teach you about more extensively in our online training program Achieve for Parents. It is important that you consider where the brain of your child is at any specific period of time and adapt your parenting style/goals to that.

Step 4: What specific actions do I need to take?

After getting clear on what kind of outcome you want, what your parent goal is based on that and how you need to adapt that goal based on your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses, the final step is to detail the SPECIFIC things you will do to achieve those goals. This might be as simple or it might be quite complex – either way, you want to break the goal down into super small, super actionable steps. Becoming a more conscious parent means we need to sometimes change our habits, which take time. If you try to attempt to change a habit cold turkey, you will likely fail. So start small and focus on things you can do each day.

If the goal is more complicated or you’re not sure what you can do, then consider using outside resources to help you work towards your parenting goals. Some of the things you can look into include:

  • Educating yourself through books and free online resources
  • Enrolling a parent training program such as Achieve for Parent to learn more specific strategies for helping your child succeed
  • Attending a counselling session for yourself or perhaps with your child and/or family

Parent Goal-Setting Worksheet

To help you organize your thoughts based on these steps and the parent goal-setting approach described here, we’ve created a free worksheet you can download, print and fill out as you work through these questions. Click here to download the Parent Goal-Setting Worksheet.