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Goal-Setting and LD: Enhancing Skills for Success in Life

Goal Setting For Students - Personal Goal SettingWhen it comes to success in life, academic achievement is certainly important, but it can only take you so far. If you don’t know what you're good at, for example, how can you pick a major in college or choose a career path? If you don’t have the ability to deal with a frustrating professor or boss, what kind of grades or raises will you achieve? And, if you can’t stick with a goal, how far will you really get in life?

Research has identified factors that tend to lead to life success for individuals with LD. Here, we look at the critical value of goal setting.

A Parent’s Role With Children’s Goals

Paul J. Gerber, PhD, professor of Special Education and Disability Policy at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, says that goal setting helps focus a person’s energy, making it central to success. Parents can play a pivotal role in the development of this skill. “They can help not only with goal setting but with analyzing, monitoring and providing motivation along the way,” he says.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Be a goal-setter, too. Model the type of goal setting you want to see in your child. As you set goals, tell your child about them as well as the specific steps you’re taking to reach them. If you’re starting a new exercise regimen, casually mention your weekly and long-term goals. When you hit your targets, make a big deal of it. But don’t forget to mention the bumps in the road and what you are doing to surmount them.
  • Make goal-setting a habit. Planning a long trip? Bring your child into the process, by asking questions like, “What are the top three things you want to see on this trip?” “What are two things you can do when you get tired in the car (or your sister really starts to bug you)?”, “What is one thing you can try to address your fear of flying?” Then ask for ways you can help your child meet these goals.
    • Tie goals into dreams. The more you can connect your child’s goals to his or her passions, the better. With your child’s buy-in comes more motivation and a much greater chance of success.
    • Inspire self-confidence. Coach, cheerlead and celebrate successes. When your child succeeds in reaching a goal, ask him or her what made the difference. This helps your child internalize what he or she needs to do to carry over the skill to the next experience.
    • Help overcome obstacles. Gerber emphasizes that failing to meet goals may be disappointing, but can provide invaluable lessons for your child. Rather than ignoring the failure or berating your child for lack of follow through, help him or her to systematically pinpoint the specific obstacles that got in the way. “If your child fails, help him or her to come back and reboot and do it a different way that will work better next time,” he says.


Help Your Child Create SMART Goals

Have you heard of SMART goals? SMART goals provide a great framework for achieving objectives—a ruler for measuring growth. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Results-oriented
  • Time-bound

Tags: ensure-success