I always starts out with the greatest intentions. I will not nag or threaten. I will keep my paperwork up to date and organized. I will maintain the data for each child each week. I will not lose my cool. I will follow through with consequences. I will maintain the token award chart.
My plan goes smoothly for two weeks…if I am really diligent. But then, like water on pavement on a hot day…POOF! I am back in default mode and I can feel the best intentions literally slipping away from me.
This scenario plays out in both my role as a mom and a special educator. I am inconsistent to say the least. It drives me crazy! I know that consistency is a key ingredient to reduced anxiety, increased self esteem and motivated learning for all children, and especially those with autism. So, do I give up? Not a chance.
Here’s my plan:
- Choose 1- 3 goals only. Avoid trying to fix everything all at once. “Stop chasing so many rabbits at once!” I was told by a coach.
- Before implementing a ‘great idea’ put time and thought into how much time it will take in reality? How much front end work needs to be done? Is it honestly a reasonable expectation for myself, my kids, my classroom/family given time, energy, other responsibilities and personalities.
- Who should I include in the planning and implementation? need to include others if I am to be successful.
- Have I recorded my goal and my plan in writing and shared it with someone who will hold me to it?
- I must start again when I miss the mark. And again. And again. As long as it takes to achieve the goal.
- Be prepared to be flexible. Rarely do plans work out exactly as intended. Often people, events and the unforeseen force us to modify the original design. This is okay. Like my students with autism, I need to learn to roll with it.
My friend, whom I consider an excellent parent, told me that she had instituted a reward system at home for her children. It was executed faithfully and the kids really bought in to it. However, life became more hectic. Once the behaviour problems diminished other priorities arose and next thing my friend knew the kids were acting out again and chaos ensued. During a family discussion, her son with ADHD said, “Why did you ever stop the Popsicle stick system? It really worked!” My friend laughed. Ouch. She had been called out. The system started again.
Out of the mouths of babes!
Being consistent is so very important. Our kids need to know that you say what you mean and you mean what you say. Individuals with autism may not be able to cope without it! Our own integrity is founded on it too.
How do you stay consistent in your plans and goals?