With the arrival of 2016, many of you may have thoughts of self-improvement. I know that collectively, CATS would like to lose 850 pounds over the next 12 months. But as you might guess, that’s pretty unrealistic. That’s the trouble with goals – we often set them so high that they cannot be achieved. We’d like to offer some insight into both goal setting and goal expectations to get your program year off and running.
Reflecting (another word for thinking)
I know that when I hear the word “reflection,” I often tune out. I think that word perhaps calls for a more in-depth type of commitment than I am willing to devote. So rather than ask you to “reflect” on this, I am just going to ask that you give it a bit of thought.
One of the CATS offers this example:
Setting and meeting goals
It came to me as I was working to meet my goal of losing weight in order to wear a pair of new jeans I had bought some time ago, but couldn't fit into. I was in Size 16 and wanted so desperately to fit into those new jeans with the tags still on them. The looser my size 16 got, the more confident I became that those size 14 jeans would soon fit. Many times I had tried and couldn't pull those britches up and then got them up, but couldn't get them to zip. I kept working hard toward my goal until one day I was finally able to get those jeans on, zip them up and wear them (sitting down) without feeling as if I was cutting myself in half. Virtuous feeling...until one day I happened to look at the tag and discovered THOSE JEANS WERE 16's!!! My goal had not been met and suddenly I was feeling as if I had accomplished nothing.
Or setting and not meeting goals
It was quite a blow for me to think I hadn’t met the very first goal of my plan. After a while and quite a bit of thinking, I realized that while I had not met the original intended goal of a size 14, I had still met the goal of fitting into those pants. I'd totally neglected the fact that I may have been looking at my goals all wrong.
So now think of something in your program that is not working as well as you want it to. Perhaps you have been working on it, hoping to achieve the goal of this practice going more smoothly. Take a moment to rethink – has there been any change? If yes, perhaps the change is the goal you were seeking. If no, perhaps you don’t need to change the practice, but change your expectations. We often set goals for ourselves or the children in our care and are so set on meeting/accomplishing those goals that we fail to see the accomplishments along the way.
A Matter of Perspective
Another CAT writes: Lena was a biter. That wasn't a huge issue for me because my own children had been biters, so I knew it was DAP AND that it should really help if I were much more focused on her so that I could intervene and stop her before she bit. She wasn't one of those biters who had only one target and as hard as I tried to keep her right next to me or to be oh-so-careful in my supervision, she often managed to bite someone during the day. It wasn't predictable, at least that I could determine, and wasn't a "time of day" issue. The last straw came when another parent said that if it happened again she was removing her child from care. I told Mitzi that night - definitely not my best Polly Provider moment - that something had to happen with Lena because her biting couldn't continue. It broke my heart when Mitzi started grabbing Lena’s things and was stomping out saying something to the effect "Fine. She won't be back." Did I mention that Lena was my all-time favorite child?
I can't remember how, but we both calmed and tried to think about what we could do. Together we decided that maybe seeing the pediatrician should be the first step. The other parents agreed to wait and give that a try and Lena saw her doctor the next day. He gave what I think is one of the most brilliant solutions I've ever heard. "Give her a pacifier." Lena wasn't quite two years old at the time and hadn't had a pacifier since she was just over a year old. She was smart as a whip and communicated well, even though you couldn't understand everything she said. So, in desperation, Mitzi agreed to try that and brought several pacifiers. It was incredible. I kept one with me and had them stashed all over the house "just in case." It worked like a charm and I never had a problem with her biting again. The doctor’s rationale was that some children need that sucking action more than others and maybe she wasn’t getting enough of it without a bottle or pacifier.
Lessons learned – sometimes it just takes a different perspective.
It seems the lesson here is that when what we have tried and even been successful with in previous instances doesn’t work, perhaps it is time to turn to others for help and advice. And then be wise enough to listen!
As you work on and through your goals and plans for this brand new year, stay focused on what you are trying to achieve. Don’t be afraid to re-set goals that are not working. It is not necessarily you – all children are different and what one group loved, perhaps the next group will not. This is the beauty of family child care; we are free to change course at will – and should when the going gets rough.
Happy New Year! Happy New You!