3.1.1 Watch the video

Susan Young, a doctor in psychology specialized in neurodevelopment in children, describes what parents and carers can do to help their child learn how to think ahead, set constructive goals and plan the steps they need to take to reach them. This will help them reach their personal goals at home and school, meet educational expectations and balance these with social activities. The techniques will also help them to plan and set smaller goals to achieve specific tasks, such as meeting deadlines, completing homework and chores. The video you’re about to watch provides guidance for how parents/carers can best support their child in these endeavours by prompting constructive strategies, and will help the parents too.

Watch the video: https://youtu.be/qL5h0d6VKmI


Hello there. I’m Dr. Susie. And in this top tip session, I’m talking about how you can help your child develop the skills they need to set goals and make effective plans. Plans that increase the likelihood they will achieve their goals. These are essential skills to learn. As without them, we’re just leaves in the wind floating around in a haphazard way, with no idea where we going or how we will act. It’s all down to chance, you need to teach your child that the future is in their hands and their direction. They’re a rooted tree and not a leaf in the wind. So here are my top tips to help them develop planning skills.

The first is set goals. Before you can plan you need to know what you’re planning for obvious. Hmm, maybe for you, but that’s not necessarily the case of your child. Talk to them about what they want, set some goals, but make sure they are specific things that are realistic, and achievable in the short term. We don’t want to go to become an astronaut one day, because there’s no problem with dreams and aspirations of course. But this works best as a short to medium term strategy. What you want to goals like to be on the cricket team. To get a good grade in maths. Or to make some delicious chocolate brownies make a list of the goals they want to achieve by the end of the week, into the month or term and write them down.

Next tip is to break goals down into steps. This is so your child can see what steps they need to take to achieve their goals. For example, your child’s goal might be to make some chocolate brownies. This can be broken down into several steps. The first choose a recipe. Next, write a list of ingredients. The next step, go and buy them. And then the next step, make a date when you’re going to make the brownies and perhaps or someone to help. When goals are broken down into smaller steps they seem more manageable. The steps usually come in an order 123, etc. So you may need to rewrite the list in order for your child to easily see what to do first, and what things come a little later on in the path to achieving their goal. But don’t do it for them, or they won’t learn the process and apply it to other goals. You must teach the process.

My next tip is diarising. So now you know your child has got a list of steps to help them achieve their goals. So what next? Well, sometimes the problem is implementing the steps. So take a diary or calendar, or whatever your child likes best and is most likely to use and write down when they’re going to do each step. For example, on Monday, they make a list of ingredients. On Tuesday, they go shopping after school to buy them. On Saturday, they make the brownies and eat them petite. Children love to use their phones, so you could suggest they make lists and scheduled tasks into the calendar on their phone. However, a diary or calendar or even one week page on a piece of paper might be better, a better option because this can be placed somewhere your child will see it rather than them having to make the effort to access it on their phone. So it could be pinned up on the wall or door in their bedroom. It needs to be somewhere it won’t be missed, as this will remind them to implement the steps. If it’s on the phone, they may forget to look at it. Well all done now, but just remember you need to take them to the supermarket.

Next step is really for medium term plans. pinning a calendar to a wall is a fun and visually pleasing way to help your child to plan their goals. Encourage and support your child to write on it as it’s no use if it doesn’t get used. Get your child to make their own notes on it and to add visual tools like symbols and pictures. Put a picture or photo of the end goal on the calendar. As this will motivate your child to achieve their goal. I know that a photo of brownies would most definitely motivate me to bake a batch.

Next is verbal prompts. Sometimes children get distracted from their tasks or forget what steps they need to take. You can help your child to refocus by giving verbal prompts like so what comes next. If they completely lose track of what step of the plan they’re on, just remind them by summarising the process. Remember you’re teaching a process, for example, say something like so you’ve done a B and C. So D comes next.

Next tip is setting an alarm. This will help your child manage their time. They could use a phone, a computer, a clock, an oven timer, or even an egg timer. The alarm will remind your child when something needs to be done. It can be used to prompt the child to start something to stop something, or to take a break. They might even end up setting alarms themselves without you having to remind them. Wow, imagine that.

Next, an important step routines rule. Having a good routine in place is good for everyone. It can help your child with planning as they learn and anticipate what will happen next. This means they can predict, plan and prepare for some goals. For example, the goal might be to be ready on time to go to school. The routine might be to shower, brush their teeth, get dressed, check the school timetable, and pack a school bag with the things needed for the day. Talk to your child about the different routines you have in place and make sure they and actually all members of the family are clear on their roles in the routine. Everyone needs to sign up to the routine or it isn’t a routine. That’s the thing about routines you need to stick to them.

Next tip is to set up a star chart system to reward positive behaviour and achievement doesn’t have to cost money, put it in their bedroom, or on the fridge door. Find out how to create a new star chart by going to the resources section of my website. There you’ll find a free downloadable document called do’s don’ts and rewards. Positive feedback is so very important, as this will motivate your child to practice newly acquired skills. This can sometimes be forgotten as we tend to provide feedback when a negative interaction has occurred. Reward effort as well as achievement. Don’t forget that it’s important.

That’s it, over and out the top tips for planning ahead, check out my website: psychology-services.uk.com. On that website, you’ll find links and information for top tips for children, adolescents and grown ups.