A Happy New Year to you and yours!
It is the beginning of 2018 – hasn’t 2017 just flown by?!
So we are all making lists of things we want to do, get or buy that will make this year the best year we have ever had.
Our best intentions sometimes happen, sometimes they don’t and many times they just fizzle out halfway.
But don’t let that happen to your child.
Make 2018 the best year ever for your son or daughter.
How can you do that, and more importantly, help them do that?
By following my plan.
In fact, if you want to trial it, do the work on yourself first and you will realise what a great tool it is for anyone.
I see lots of parents come into my tutorial school in January, determined that their children are go ing to do better this year, especially in any end of year or entrance exams.
The parents are enthusiastic and involved, showing me report cards or comments and giving the highlights of parent teacher conversations. The children however, can be a different story. They are sometimes sulky, indifferent and uninterested.
It’s hard for children to realise that the work they put in now is going to have consequences for the rest of their lives. Right now, even the end of the academic year is too far away to bother with.
(Don’t worry, by the end of their time with me, most of these un-interested children will be essentially different. They will have gone from reluctant to voracious readers, strugglers in exams to passing with flying colours, and prodigious writers when they used to be afraid of the blank page and an essay prompt.)
However, one of the main reasons such New Year intentions are sometimes so stressful and filled with tension is because the parents have not talked things through with their child.
We’ve all had talks with our kids: in the car on the way back from football, when a report card comes in, after a parent teacher meeting. But how often have we sat them down and made a plan with them, talking about where they are, where they need to be and how to get there?
Planning for study goals can be as important and many times more rewarding than planning investment goals. Putting down on paper the daily or weekly requirements are as important as planning every meal of a diet and every step of an exercise plan.
- Write down 3-5 main roles or areas of importance in life.
- For you, the adult, it could be: parent, spouse, employee, healthy and fit person, spiritual being, for example.
- For your child it could be: daughter, student, friend, footballer, artist.
- For each role write down a maximum of 3 goals for LIFE, not just next year.
- So as a grand-daughter the long-term goals could be: get to know grandma and spend time with her. The yearly goal could be visit grandma every weekend and record her talking about her childhood.
- Write down at least 3 goals in 2018 for each of these roles.For example, as an artist in 2018, I would like to complete 1 canvas every month and then hold an exhibition to raise money for charity.
- As a student, I don’t read unless it is a comic book. In 2018, I would like to read a novel each month and start by reading a fantasy series.
- For each goal, put down what you need to do, and what you will do, in great detail.
- For example, as an artist, I will need to spend Saturday afternoon after football practice in my room painting, rather than out with my friends.
- As a reader, I will buy the audiobooks to accompany me as I read the printed books of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, or the Harry Potter series, after which I will watch the movies.
Make sure the goals have timelines, and specific time and effort commitment that comes down to the week or month.
Remember, the idea is to do this with your child, and to find out facets that are your child’s wishes. As a parent, however, you can make some standing rules and have some rewards.
For example: “If you want to become a professional footballer when you grow up, I will support that dream. You have to get your marks up to 75% in all your subjects this term, after which I will buy you the new football boots you have been asking for. “
Contracts made together with your child are a great way of ensuring that things are fair and firm in your expectations of each other.
Make these contractual agreements regarding everything that you and your child want to work on together. It can be about behaviour, studies, habits and even food. It will help to write them all down. Also, decide on some consequences for not keeping to the contract.
Like this: “If you complete all your homework for 2 weeks in a row, you will get one weekend without it as a reward. If you don’t complete your homework every day for 2 weeks, you will not be able to play with your Xbox or PlayStation for one day of the weekend.”
A word of advice: keep it simple. Work on one aspect of behaviour a month or your child will end up feeling stressed and break the contract anyway. The trick is to have your child feel success for keeping up the contract and being rewarded for it, however simple it might be, rather than setting your child up for failure.
If you and your child, and maybe your entire family, come up with these contracts together, write them out and sign them, you will find that arguments will reduce and everyone will have a purpose. After all, they made their own goals and had a part to play in deciding their rewards and punishments for their contract.
Try my Best Year Ever plan and create your first co-contract with your child. Then see how things work. You can regroup with each other and tweak and change the contract every month, if you want. Or just fairly enforce it week after week and you will find it has naturally become a part of your child’s behaviour by the end of the year! Drop me a line and let me know how it is going.
Good luck in 2018 to you and your family, and may it be your best year ever!