This year I’m going to be patient with my kids. And I’m not going to yell. Oh, and no more chicken nuggets.
You smile. Feeling proud of your new parenting goals.
Until you turn around and your toddler is pouring ketchup on the floor. And the dog is leaving a trail of ketchup footprints all over the house.
Patience? (Nope!) Yelling? (Yep!) No way I’m making dinner tonight. (Chicken nuggets it is.)
And, without a second glance. Your goals are a distant memory.
Good intentions rarely lead to true change. There is a trick to creating goals that actually work!
But before you begin, start by creating parenting mantra and take time to write a vision for your parenting. (If you haven’t done this yet, go ahead…I’ll wait.)
Ok. Now you are ready to start making changes!
Effective goal setting has five parts.
1. Consistent with Your Vision – Look back at the vision you wrote for your parenting. Rather than thinking about what your goals “should be” or “shouldn’t be,” pick one that gets you closer to who you want to be as a parent or what you want for your family.
2. Written – Take the time to write out your goal. If you’re creative, make it pretty. Put it somewhere you will see it often. Unwritten goals will be forgotten, while written goals provide a constant reminder of what you are working towards.
3. Present tense – Write your goal as if you are already doing it. It may sound crazy at first, but your brain doesn’t know the difference. Once your brain is on board, your actions and feelings will follow. For example, “I speak calmly to my children.”
4. Positive – Make your goal reflect what you are going to do differently, rather than what you want to stop doing. For example, “I take a deep breath before responding to my kids” is much more effective than, “I don’t yell.”
5. Time sensitive – Give yourself a timeline, a date you would like to complete this goal or a specific time of day you are going to implement this goal. For example, “I spend 10 minutes one-on-one with my child from 7:00 – 7:10 pm daily.”
Two more steps…
Are you still feeling overwhelmed? Does your goal still seem too big to accomplish?
Don’t panic. There are two more parts you may want to include.
6. Break it down – Identify small steps you need to take that will make this goal possible. Looking at a goal in small steps may help you stay on track because it is much less intimidating and you will gain momentum as you complete each small task.
7. Celebrate Success – One bad day doesn’t mean you didn’t reach your goal. You’re not perfect, so don’t strive for perfection. Instead, focus on getting back on track when you mess up. Celebrate the little steps you take toward your goal. Give yourself a pat on the back, put a gold star on the calendar, or tell a friend!
Before any more of this year slips away, sit down and write a goal. It doesn’t have to be a large goal. Pick something simple. “I smile at my children daily.”
Or maybe, “I stay calm when my toddler makes a huge mess.”
(And you might want to keep the ketchup on the top shelf from now on too!)
Comments have been turned off to retain the privacy of all families. If you have a question or comment on the topic, you're always welcome to contact me.