If your child suffers from anxiety, you know just how hard preparing for a goal-setting session can be. As the New Year quickly approaches, your child will likely hear about goal setting in the classroom and in their social circle. Setting resolutions and goals for an entire year ahead can be overwhelming for anyone, especially children who suffer from excess worry. In this article, we will explore how you can successfully start planning New Year’s resolutions with your anxious child.
When in doubt, start small! Try to make bite-sized goals with your child that can be easily achievable in the span of a few weeks or days. You don’t have to plan for the entire year in January, even just making a goal map for wintertime can be productive. Color-code each goal to match the level of difficulty it will take to reach it. For example, you can set green, yellow, and red goals symbolizing the level of effort needed to achieve each benchmark. (1)
Celebrate Their Accomplishments
Don’t forget to celebrate your child’s accomplishments from the previous year, prior to planning for the next one. Children need to be celebrated in order to stay motivated to continue working hard or demonstrating good behavior. This is especially true for anxious children! Children who suffer from anxiety often need more reassurance, which can come from their parents or guardians celebrating them for a job well done. Navigating life as an anxious child isn’t easy, so be sure to congratulate them on even the small wins.
Create a Reward System
By creating a reward system for your child, you are helping them make goal-setting fun! Treat creating New Year’s goals like a game and offer prizes or rewards for every goal that is accomplished. For example, your child might get to visit their favorite place or enjoy a tasty snack when a goal is completed. Be sure to not punish your child for not meeting goals, as this can make anxiety worse. (2)
Make All Goals Achievable
As a mentor for your child, it is your job to make sure all goals are achievable prior to setting them in stone. You can set challenging goals that will take more time to achieve, but be sure to also mix in easy goals to boost your child’s confidence and to help keep them going.
Show Your Support
Your child may need support in order to achieve the goals you have set together. Make sure your child knows they do not have to navigate the entire New Year goal-setting journey on their own! Make sure they know that they have a support system that can help when things get tricky. This will also help you strengthen your relationship with your child and build trust between the two of you. (3)
We hope this article helped you generate new ideas to remember when goal-setting for children who suffer from anxiety. If you need support as a mentor or want to make sure your child is getting the best treatment and care, contact Neurobehavioral Associates today!