We need them to plan and create buildings, which in turn provide us with shelter and functionality for years. In addition to literal blueprints, though, what about the figurative blueprints that guide our lives?
Without a blueprint, without a plan, where would we end up? Directionless, unsure of where we were going and probably not happy when we got there. That’s why we create plans, implementing structure in our lives so that we can work towards achieving specific goals – and making new and revised goals along the way, pushing ahead.
Blueprints are even more important for children and teens! After all, so much of our adult lives can be attributed to the input and experiences from our formative years. Most successful people were fortunate enough to have had parents who provided a blueprint for their lives, plans that started as far back as infancy and continued with structure and guidance throughout youth, the teen years and into early adulthood. Others might not have been as lucky, and either made their own blueprints or suffered through life without one.
As a parent, you have a unique and powerful opportunity (responsibility) to develop and implement a blueprint to help your child. Whether they’re in the early stages of youth, or growing through the pre-teen and teen years, children depend on parents to provide that structure and direction that will help make their lives more fruitful, now and well into the future.
Have You Made a Blueprint? How Is It Working? Is There Room for Revision?
If you’ve already made a blueprint for your child(ren), how is it working out? Are you seeing the results of that blueprint, and are you satisfied with what you see?
No matter what you’ve created as far as plans and goals, there’s always room for improvement – wouldn’t you agree? After all, we plan for what’s within our control… and then life happens. It’s up to us to:
(1) Anticipate what might be ahead
(2) Plan for it
(3) Adjust based on what happens subsequently
That’s the essence of the Blueprint. It’s not just planning for wishful thinking but using experience and evidence as inputs to the planning; and allowing for flexibility in the plan to accommodate deviations and detours that will inevitably happen along the way. That means that, as life happens, the blueprint requires frequent revisiting as well as revision at times.
Where to Start with a Blueprint?
Whether you’re setting out on that initial blueprint for your first child, or making a revised blueprint for a son or daughter who’s going into or through more turbulent times such as adolescence, it’s important to put some thought into what you want to achieve (outcome) and how your child might best get there (process). At the same time, don’t overthink this! There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. After all, you’ve been there yourself – as have literally billions of people. And if you’re stuck or the ideas just aren’t coming to mind, countless resources are at your disposal – the fact that you’re reading this means you’ve probably been searching, so good on you! We can help. Read on to find out how – or contact us today to book an appointment with one of our trained youth counsellors.
The first step in creating an effective blueprint for your child is deciding what you want to achieve. What kind of life would you like her or him to live? Think about goals such as:
- Financial Security
- Morals & Character
- Social Adaptability
Now’s a great time to think back to the kinds of goals you had in your youth, either provided by parent(s) and/or something you developed. How did these help you succeed? What do you wish you’d known or had at your disposal back then? What tools or knowledge would have made your youth and adult life more stable, successful, etc.? What’s changed in the world since, and how would you like to see your daughter or son survive and thrive in this new environment?
Do you want your child to succeed in school, moving on to college or university? Is that the right path for them (remember, some people are better suited for the arts, trades, etc.)?
What level of financial security would you like them to attain? What’s realistic? What’s a stretch goal, etc.? What would you like that financial stability to look like? Owning a home? Being self-employed? Traveling the world and working remotely?
What about their health and well-being? Of course, we all want our loved ones to be healthy, but what does that look like? Is it longevity? Quality of life? Emotional and mental wellness? How and to what degree does spirituality play a role?
Okay, You’ve Got Some Goals… Now What? (Hint: It’s All About Action)
Once you’ve established the broad goals you want for your child, it’s time to put those in writing – in other words, an Action Plan. This is where the blueprint becomes solidified. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said,
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
We all wish for something. We all want good things to happen for ourselves and for those whom we love. Planning where we want to go and how we’ll get there – then working towards those goals – is what turns wishes into results. That’s how you can work with your child(ren) to develop a plan for success, one based on action and results. You’re may be familiar with the “S.M.A.R.T.” goals strategy. This refers to setting objectives that are:
- Attainable (Agreed upon / Achievable)
- Relevant (Realistic / Reasonable / Results Based)
By setting SMART goals, you’re creating a set of expectations that your son or daughter will be able to abide by and work towards, with neither unrealistic pressure nor vague parameters. So long as these goals are communicated clearly, discussed openly and revisited regularly, you and your child(ren) will reap results in both the short term and well into the future!
What’s a good way to solidify these goals? Put them in writing! Keep a copy for yourself, give a copy to your child(ren)… keeping goals visible on a poster or white board is also an effective strategy, when there are specific expectations as part of the larger blueprint.
Per the above SMART steps, make sure that the actions taken can be sustained over time. Be specific enough with the goal to be able to measure results. Discuss the goals with your daughter or son, make sure you’re all on the same page and they everyone understands and agrees on what can and will be done. Be realistic and reasonable with the goals. An impossible goal will cause a child (or anyone) to become discouraged and give up; while a goal that’s too easy or not well-defined will probably fall short of its intentions. And be sure to monitor the progress and measure the results in a timely manner.
Of equal if not greater importance, make sure that your child is fully committed, empowered and on board with the blueprint plans. If it’s something that’s simply been dictated or handed down, they’re less likely to see what’s in it for them and more likely to feel like it’s “just another chore or demand” from Mom and/or Dad. Rather than talking down to them, you’re far better off speaking with your son or daughter openly, honestly, and at their level – creating a safe and supportive atmosphere. Give them choices within the larger structure, while guiding the overall direction of course, as choices will help a child feel more empowered and more like to want to succeed.
Priorities are another vital piece of the blueprint. If you give your child too much to work on all at once, they’re likely to feel overwhelmed. That’s why it’s important to place a priority structure within the overall framework.
- Establish short-term tasks (studying math for half an hour every day to do well on the final exam next month);
- Versus mid-term goals (e.g. exercising 4 days a week for 60 minutes each time – for the general objective of being physically fit);
- And then the long-term objectives such as being fluent in a second language (which itself can be prioritized into short-and-mid term goals, e.g. talking with a native speaker for an hour a day, or spending a summer in France)
By viewing larger goals as a set of smaller, manageable tasks, your child is far more likely to achieve success.
How Can Youth Counselling Help With Your Blueprint and Goals?
Do you have a blueprint but find it challenging to implement, handcuffed by communication challenges and ‘growing pains’ with your daughter or son? Or are you encountering challenges putting together a set of goals and plans that are mutually agreeable? Capital Choice Counselling in Ottawa can help! We’re experts in youth counselling, with a trained and experienced staff of therapists, psychologists and counsellors who know all about the challenges of communicating with children and getting them to take actions that are in their own best interest. Contact us today to book an appointment and get started towards the blueprint for your children’s future.