Blog 11–WC Reflections & Resources

goal-setting-1

With the coming of the new year, it seems like a good time to reflect on what you as caregivers, are teaching your children about setting goals and acting upon them. I currently am working with young adult clients who have little to no direction for they want to do with their lives.  There are numerous other children and teens clients who are having a hard time focusing or seeing the value of their education.  Some of them have even questioned if they would be missed if they weren’t here on this earth.

While children are still in the care of adults, they are dependent on their caregivers to not only to provide for their basic needs, but to teach them how to be in the world. Without these needs being met, children lose out on a sense of security, grounding and purpose in life.  By learning to set and meet goals, children will learn valuable skills in problem-solving, organizing and interacting with others in a collaborative manner.  These in turn help children to develop self-confidence, open-mindedness and direction.   This process also helps children learn the concepts of focus, time, patience, persistence and effort; possibly even coping with disappointment and engaging in hard work.

gaol-setting-3

Caregivers are able to teach the concepts of setting goals for short term and long term related to simple or complex interests. The following are some pointers in how to do this process:    1)  explore interests or assigned tasks, 2)  reflect on the purpose of the activity, 3) brainstorm the steps to accomplish the task, 4)  consider your resources to meet goal such as money and/or supplies,  5)  prioritize these steps, 6)  create a time-table to get the steps completed, 7) start the steps, 8)  assess and make adjustments as needed, 9)  acknowledge the completion (possibly celebrate), 10)  start the process over and use the knowledge gained from this goal endeavor.  Maintaining a positive attitude is essential throughout these steps as is keeping one’s expectations in check or one risks being too hard on oneself or blaming others if things don’t work out as envisioned.

Use these steps to instruct children on how to plan for a big school project, on how to prepare for a family meal, on how to structure summer school break, on how to prep for holiday celebrations, on how to spend a rainy or snowy day, etc. These tasks become building blocks for children to learn to think for themselves, to learn from their mistakes and successes as well as to acknowledge what they have control of and how they might need others to assist them.  The sooner children learn these basic skills, the better able they will be to face the challenges of higher education and their future related to work and family development.

It is never too late to practice these goal-setting skills for yourself or for your family.   Your children will thank you in the future for having taken the time to break things down in how to get more out of their lives personally and relationally. I challenge you to be more proactive in teaching your children how to set goals and how to work toward getting what they want out of life.

gaol-setting-5

Blog 10–WC Reflections & Resources

time-image-2

I recently witnessed some of the highs and lows related to a family coping with the failing health and eventual death of my friend’s father and her mother’s husband. This experience reminded me of how tenuous and uncertain our life span can be.  One moment you may be laughing and telling stories with your beloved and in the next you may be weeping and grieving the loss of your beloved.  The finality of death may be seen as a sweet blessing after a long stretch of hospice care or an unfathomable loss due to unresolved hurts or unmet needs.  Each person will have a different range of feelings depending on the quality of connection with the deceased.

As a therapist I often think about the impact of life and death on my clients and their families. Personally and professionally, I have seen how children learn from their caregivers how to view time and how to use it.  The perception of time impacts not only the quality of our family interactions, but every other aspect of our lives.

We occasionally forget the value of time with our loved ones when we get wrapped up in the busyness of life or when we hold onto past hurts or regrets. Caregivers are responsible to teach their children the value of time through their words and actions.  Strong relationships with family, friends, peers and associates are created by people showing up to share, listen, encourage and support each other.  Healthy relationships promote a sense of safety, security and personal well-being.

family-time-image-4

In my office, I have often heard clients state, “I don’t have time for _____.” Filling in the blank could be, “my child is having too many temper tantrums, my child is crying too much, my child is not feeling well, my child is taking too long to get ready, etc.”  This statement makes me wonder, “What do you have time for?”  A child’s words and actions are a form of communication that something is right or wrong in their world—physically, emotionally, socially, cognitively, spiritually.  Caregivers need to take the time and to figure out what their child is trying to say to bring about a sense of support and relief.   If you the caregiver are feeling too overwhelmed and are having a hard time deciphering your child’s actions, you may want to consider outside support via individual, couples or family therapy.  There is no shame in doing this.

I am a firm believer in our having or taking time for what is important to us. There is no one right way to spend our time any given day.  We get to decide when we wake up what is on our plate for the day—a variation of work, play or relaxation.   The decision making process continues with the consideration of whether we have any responsibilities to ourselves, our family, our job and/or our community?

Because, no one knows how much time any of us will have on earth, it is up to each one of us to make the most of the time we have. Are you going to spend your time being present with your family and creating memories or are you going to take your time and family for granted?  I challenge you to take the time to reflect on how you spend your time in taking care of yourself and building positive connections with your family members.

time-image-1