Newsletter: Parent logic: Determination
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What exactly is self-determination?
Field, Martin, Miller, Ward, and Wehmeyer (1998) defined self-determination as a combination of skills, knowledge, and beliefs that enable a person to engage in goal-directed, self-regulated, autonomous behavior. An understanding of one’s strengths and limitations, together with a belief of oneself as capable and effective are essential to self-determination. When acting on the basis of these skills and attitudes, individuals have greater ability to take control of their lives and assume the role of successful adults in our society (p. 2).
Teaching your child to be self-determined doesn’t always come naturally. It means you need to let go and allow your child to make appropriate choices and at times fail so they can learn their choices and actions result in a consequence of their own making. Once they are empowered to know they are in charge of their choices they are motivated to succeed. It means you will need to purposefully plan to increase your child’s awareness of their needs, help them set goals, and support them in their achievement of those goals. It doesn’t mean you will do it for them. Self-determined children and adults see a goal and work hard to make it a reality. They have sound decision making skills, and are able to problem solve to direct their actions to achievement. They are as it states “self-determined”. They are not afraid to ask for assistance, guidance and are open to learning and change to achieve their goals.
Making the choice to develop a parenting plan for your child is the first step in achieving your goals for your child. A parenting plan reflects the character traits, values, morals and life lessons you would like your child to learn over the course of their lifetime.
The parenting plan should include promoting the following character traits:
Self esteem and Self worth
Sound values and morals
Delayed gratification and self-regulation
Another essential component to include in your parenting plan would be teaching goal setting skills.
Goal setting skills include: Problem solving, decision making, conflict resolution and self management skills
Problem solving skills: Teaching a child to learn to identify the problem, process through a pros and cons list of options to solving the problem, considering outcomes and consequences of executing the solution to the problem and then implementing the solution and then evaluating the outcome for future learning and adjustments of how the solution worked or didn’t work.
Decision-making skills: Teaching a child to identify a situation that requires a decision, researching and gathering information, identifying possible options, processing the outcomes and consequences and implementing the decision and evaluating the outcome for future learning and adjustments of how it worked or didn’t work.
Conflict resolution skills: Identifying the conflict, process through a pros and cons list of options to resolving the conflict, considering outcomes and consequences of executing an action and implementing the action and then evaluating the outcome for future learning and adjustments of how the solution worked or didn’t work to resolve the conflict.
Self management skills: When implementing your parenting plan look for opportunities to teach them the life skills you would like for them to learn. Give clear guidelines so they don’t become overwhelmed, encourage them to think out loud as they work through addressing problems. Provide them with guidance and feedback by asking them insightful questions that will lead them to the possible outcomes and consequences of their choices. Allow them to follow through even if they fail so that they can learn to evaluate when they experience a not so favorable outcome.
Take advantage of opportunities to promote self-determination in your child by providing them with opportunities to make choices. Make sure you give appropriate choices according to their age and development and impose appropriate limits and boundaries with the selected choices. Give them choices that ultimately affect them so they become personally engaged in the outcome. Encourage them to share their thought process as they make their decisions or problem solve. Try to take opportunities to model problem-solving and decisions making skills so they can observe you. Discuss and evaluate the outcomes of their choices so they can begin to link their choices to the consequences. Encourage goal setting for short term and then long term goals through interacting with your child and asking them questions about their needs, interests and desires.
Teaching a child the skills to be self-determined is not always an easy task for a parent. Having a sound parenting plan to refer to is essential to helping you and your child to achieve self determination.
Teaching a child these things sounds easy but when a parent actually puts their parenting to the test they find themselves at a loss as to how to go about teaching their children these traits and skills. Having a parenting plan is essential to helping you and your child to achieve self determination. (SEE past articles: Parenting 101: developing a parenting plan) and watch for future Parenting 101 articles with similar topics to develop your parenting plan.