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Motivation: Teaching Your Child How to Create Smart Goals

Girls
Motivate Your Child with SMART Goals

Teaching your kids SMART goals will help you raise motivated children. Our parenting skills expert and author, Katherine Gordy Levine, is here to share her expertise. She'll discuss the acronym SMART from her kindle book, Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals. I'll suggest how to use it with your children.

Katherine tells us the word SMART for goal-setting was coined by George T. Doran in the 1980's. Here's Katherine's short version:

S = Specific

The S stands for making your goal specific. It won't work if it's vague like, "I want to be happy." To make it specific, you could write down, "I will smile at least 5x a day." Why? Smiling is a good way to lift one's spirit and it is specific.

M = Measurable

The M stands for measuring your progress. Katherine says almost anything can be counted and she shows several different counting methods. For the goal, "I will smile at least 5 times a day," a small chart for the week with tally marks for each smile each day would be sufficient.

"It's good to start with a baseline," says Katherine. She shows how to establish baselines in her book. A baseline is what the specific behavior to achieve is right now. If you know that you'll be able to measure progress once you start your goal.

A = Action oriented and Agreed upon

To make goals that require action, Katherine advises breaking them down into action steps. She uses the goal of becoming a teacher and gives 4 specific action steps like looking into colleges and their fees.

If a goal includes other people, it's important that they agree to the goal. She offers ways to measure others' motivation for achieving the goal.

R = Realistic

To be realistic you'll need the necessary resources to make it happen, like talent, money, time, motivation, and support. Katherine even offers a 3 point scale for determining how realistic your goal is. You'll love her 'strengths checklist' too.

T = Timely

Timely means setting a timeframe for achieving your goals. It could be just a few weeks or years in the case of a career goal.

Motivating Your Child to Create Smart Goals

I suggest asking your child what goal she'd like to achieve and then show her how to make it a SMART goal.

Let's say your child says, "I want to make friends." It's too vague and is more like a dream than a goal. Using SMART let's chunk it down and make it a realistic goal. To do this, brainstorm with your child the goal, how to measure it, the action steps to make it happen, decide if it's realistic, and the timeframe for achieving it.

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A Sample Brainstorm for a SMART Goal

The Goal: I want to make 2 friends within 3 months.

The Action Steps: To achieve this I will take these action steps ~

1. Smile at the kids I'd like for friends and say, "Hi," whenever I see them.

2. Ask those kids if they'd like to play and have some fun games in mind.

3. Use their favorite word, their own names, whenever we talk.

4. Share toys with them.

5. Ask them questions about their favorite topic ~ themselves.

At the end of three months I will see if I have at least 2 friends. If I have 2 or more friends, I will keep doing my action steps because they worked. If not, I will think about what didn't work. I might change my behavior a little and add more action steps.

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Can you see how much fun it could be to teach your kids SMART goals? Just discuss what SMART means by using Katherine's suggestions. Then start brainstorming with this tool.

Once they've set a goal, check in with them from time to time to see how they're doing. You'll be teaching them how to motivate themselves. They'll feel great achieving the goals they chose.

Let's THANK Katherine for sharing such an important method for achieving SMART goals. You'll find load of SMART tips in her book too.

Katherine Gordy Levine
Katherine Gordy Levine, MSS

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Pick up your copy of   Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals. It will help you and your child live lives full of meaning and feel happier too.

Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals_
 

Available on Amazon.com 

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With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

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Parenting: How These Loving Dogs Teach Kids Empathy

 Charmaine Hammond and Toby 

Pet Therapy Dogs
Help Kids and
Adults!

Do your kids know that some dogs are pet therapists? If not, our parenting skills expert, Charmaine Hammond, is here to share. She is the author of Toby and His Hospital Friends and she'll reveal how her dog helps both kids and adults.

Charmaine Hammond and her husband took in 5-year-old Toby, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. She described him as a 'holy terror,' pulling books from bookshelves,  sitting in the sink, turning on tap water, pulling the lid off the toilet tank and smashing it to pieces. But he changed.

Toby's story will teach your children the meaning of caring and empathy. He is a pet therapy dog whose favorite day is Wednesday when he cheers up kids and adults at the local hospital.

Children learn that service dogs like Toby wear a special vest to identify them. In this story, Toby also wears a red bandana.

No longer a wild dog, Toby befriends eager Simon, fearful Sarah, tearful Miguel, and Mrs. Smith. The author draws you in through Toby's gentle caring as he wins them over with love.

I read this book to my grandchildren, 9-year-old Ethan and 5-year-old Allyssa. They paid attention, loved the story, and the pictures. Charmaine ends this charming tale by asking her readers a few questions and both grandchildren discussed them easily because they were captivated and listened well.

Since my grandkids recently acquired a lively puppy, I asked them if they could imagine" Hazel" becoming a pet therapy dog. "No." they answered, "unless Hazel calms down and has lots of training."

If you've ever loved a dog, you'll understand how Toby will win your heart and the hearts of your children.

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Let's give Charmaine Hammond the APPRECIATION she deserves for writing this uplifting book. She teaches youngsters what special gifts pet therapy dogs share. Toby exemplifies caring and empathy. What a fine model for kids to imitate!

Charmaine Hammond
 Charmaine Hammond

Pick up your copy of Toby and His Hospital Friends

Toby - Hospital Friends

Available at Amazon.com

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Jean Tracy, MSS

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Parenting: The Best Ways to Discuss Problems with Teenage Boys

 

Boy teen
Have Meaningful Discussions with Your Teenager

If you'd like to hold better discussions with your son, our pediatrician and parenting skills expert, Dr. Par Donahue, is here to help. He is the author of the book, Messengers in Denim. Today he'll share what he avoids saying and how to develop trust. I'll offer my own story too.

How to Prevent Teenagers from Talking

Dr. Par is able to extract sensitive material from teens when psychiatrists often fail. He says it's because many psychiatrists spend little time talking with their patients. They collect enough information to diagnose and prescribe. (Maybe their schedules stop them from more meaningful interactions.)

How to Help Teens to Communicate Their Troubles

1. Dr. Par avoids complicated medical words.

2. He avoids condemning their schoolmates or friends.

3. He makes boys comfortable by listening first.

4. Because they trust that Dr. Par really cares, they are curious about his thoughts and listen in return.

One Interview Mistake and One Solution for Comfortable Discussions with Male Adolescents

1. Avoid sitting across from your teenager because it can appear confrontational.

2. Sit side by side or shoulder to shoulder because it makes it easier for your young man to share sensitive material like his relationship with his girlfriend or drugs.

The Order of Questions to Ask When Discussing Issues

Remember, Dr. Par is not condemning during these questions. He is asking and listening.

1. What are the kids at school doing?

2. What do you think?

3. Can you tell me about your friends' activities?

4. What's going on with you?

Dr. Par makes the kids comfortable by showing he is listening and really cares. Now they want to know what he thinks. He shares his thoughts without telling them they are stupid or wrong. Because of his easy caring style and the fact that he listened first, they now listen to him. (From pages 237-238)

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I appreciate Dr. Donahue's method. Being a busy pediatrician didn't stop him from hearing and understanding his young patients. I believe he's just told us the best way to influence our teens.

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Discussion Story

One of my teenage sons, a reserved boy, didn't talk a lot. To understand him better I'd take him out to dinner once a week. We'd pick a quiet restaurant. I had some rules for myself:

1. Let him talk first.

2. Avoid being nosey.

3. Listen and say little.

4. Be approving.

Of course, I wanted to know what happened at the latest Friday night party. But I didn't probe. I let him tell me. Mostly, he talked about his music and why he liked it.

One day he told me, "Mom, you're my best friend." Even though it's years later, we continue to experience a deep connection.

That's why I strongly support Dr. Par's strategy. I know he's right because it works.

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Let's PRAISE for sharing his special method for helping teenage boys discuss their problems. He's shown us how easy it is to build a caring connection.

Blog Optimistic Dr. Parnell Donahue
Dr. Parnell Donahue

Pick up a copy of his marvelous book, Messengers in Denim: The Amazing Things Parents Can Learn from Teens. He's filled it full of interesting stories with teens, golden nuggets for parenting, and medical advice.

Cover Messengers in Denim

          Available at Amazon.com

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Jean Tracy, MSS

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How to Parent Teenagers by Avoiding the Blame Game

Teenage boy in bed
Don't Get Caught in the Blame Game with Your Teenager!

Is parenting your teenager like playing the blame game? If you'd like a way out, listen to our parenting skills experts, Marney Studaker-Cordner and Kimberly Abraham. Both are professional social workers and they authored the book, The Whipped Parent. First I'll we'll hear typical blaming statements from teens, then some blaming remarks from parents. Finally, we'll combine some mistakes to avoid and solutions to consider.

 How Parents and Adolescents Play 'The Blame Game'

Our authors tell us 'The Blame Game' is like rolling the dice. Your teen picks up the dice and makes a blaming comment. Then you pick up the dice and return a quip. Back and forth each of you keeps pushing each other's buttons. Here's an example from their book:

"I missed school today because you didn't wake me up."

"I did too wake you up. You wouldn't get out of bed."

"Uh-uh. I fell back asleep and you never came back in."

"I did too. I tried to get you up three times today. It's not my fault you missed school."

If this sounds like some of your arguments, don't give up. You have choices:

Three Choices for Parents

1. You can play and lose.

2. You can refuse to pick up the dice by not responding in the first place.

3. You can respond with, "I'm sorry you had a hard time making it to school today. Do you have any ideas on how tomorrow could be different?"

When Parents Hold a Blaming Attitude

Sometimes adults don't recognize how their own blaming attitudes put them in opposition to their teens. Here are some examples:

1. "I'm an alcoholic...But my nerves are so shot that I'm ready to drink again...he needs to know what he's driving me to do."

2. "I can't believe he swore at me. He has no respect for me or anyone else."

3. "That's it. He never swore at me until he started hanging around that one friend of his."

Can you guess why these blaming statements aren't helpful? If you said number one is wrong because your child is not responsible for your emotional state, you're correct. In this case the parent could choose to take responsibility and go to a support group or therapy.

Number two and three are still looking to blame someone. Our authors tell us that holding our adolescent responsible for his behaviors is good. Blaming is not. Why? The Blame Game offers no solutions. No one wins. (From Pages 119-122.)

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Blaming Mistakes to Avoid

Your voice, your body language, and your words have the power to teach. Some parents teach the following mistakes. Don't let these errors be yours:

1. Argue with a loud angry voice. The child learns to argue the same way because parents modeled the voice.

2. Stand with stiff body language, pointing finger, and furious face. The child learns to mimic the same stance because the parents illustrated it.

3. Yell, name call, and use blaming words. The child repeats the language because the parents taught it.

Solutions for Blaming to Consider

1. Ignore the blame game. Don't pick up the dice.

2. Form a relaxed body image.

3. Comment kindly and firmly while keeping the responsibility for the bad behavior on your teenager.

4. Model respect and character.

5. Listen well and speak well.

Yes, this takes strength when you're fired up. Take a time out. Cool down. Practice the face, body language, and words that say what needs to be said and no more. When both of you are calm then be the parent, the teacher, and the model.

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I like the examples Marney and Kimberly shared. They showed us how badly the Blame Game can go. The analogy to rolling the dice made sense. They showed us that blaming doesn't work. They gave us three choices. When you read their book, you'll find even more helpful information in the, 'The Blame Game' chapter.

Let's APPRECIATE Marney and Kimberly for sharing their expertise from working with difficult teenagers.

Authors Marney and Kim
         Marney Studaker-Cordner, MSW, CSW 

               Kimberly Abraham, MSW, CSW

Pick up your copy of their book, The Whipped Parent: Hope for Parents Raising an Out-of-Control Teen and get the help you need.

The Whipped Parent

Available on Amazon.com

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Please support today's author and share your opinions about this blog post. Just click on the COMMENTS link below. It will open up for you. We want to hear from you.

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With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

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