Setting Family Goals for 2023

The holiday season is a special time of year for families around the world, and with New Year’s Eve around the corner, it is often the time of year when people make their annual resolutions, setting goals and making plans for the new year.

New Year’s resolutions for parents of autistic children can be just as rejuvenating and inspiring as anybody else’s. Setting and reaching family goals will help you be able to recognize your accomplishments and give you something to work toward as you identify necessary changes, work to eliminate bad habits and bring in new, healthier habits, and make plans with concrete timelines and steps on how to accomplish them.

Some family goal-setting tips include:

● Working with your spouse or partner and deciding what you want for your family together as a team.

● Identifying current challenges that you and your family are facing, coming up with family goals that can address the issues.

● Focus on changes keeping your family strong, healthy and happy.

● Make incremental changes so as to not disrupt things or overwhelm your child.

● Try to incorporate fun into additional responsibilities or changes made around the house.

● Don’t forget to note what your family is doing well, highlight the positives, and work to build upon that positive foundation.

No family has perfect, cheerful, social media photo-friendly days every day, so when you are considering your goals and New Year’s resolutions, it is important to be kind to yourself, set small realistic goals, and remember that your family is unique and special, with its own set of challenges to overcome, and your measuring stick for success will likely look different from other families.

Our therapists at The Cardinal Center can help define your autistic child's tantrums

Why are Resolutions Important for Parents of Autistic Children?

Parenting a child with autism can sometimes put challenges into your everyday life that can make it difficult to look at the big picture. Let’s face it, you are simply too busy. Taking the time to step back and take an overview of your life, your family and what you want to work toward in the future can be a healthy step that will provide direction, and setting small, realistic steps can help you reach your long-term goals.

Some other reasons why New Year’s resolutions are important are:

● They provide you with an intentional growth mindset that makes you want to work and achieve goals.

● They give you the sense of a fresh start, which can feel empowering at the start of a new year.

● Working toward a goal can provide positive reinforcement, which can provide much-needed pride in your daily life and even your smallest achievements.

● Resolutions give you hope and inspiration, and you can expect things to get better for you and your loved ones, leading you to take the small steps that lead toward big goals.

● Following through and achieving a goal can trigger the reward centers in the brain, improving mental health.

They remind you to take responsibility for your life and take control over your days.

Therapist helping a boy with autism manage his tantrums

6 Helpful or Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Parents of Autistic Children

Many New Year’s resolutions for parents of children with autism involve becoming a “better” parent, but because an autism diagnosis can present unique challenges and big adjustments for families, it is often more important for parents to resolve to take better care of themselves over the next year. Prioritizing self-care can make all the difference, not only in your lives but in the lives of your children, as you will be able to focus, be more present for them, and will not feel overworked and stressed-out — emotions your children can pick up on.

Some helpful and healthy New Year’s resolutions you may wish to incorporate into this season’s wishes could include:

  1. Give yourself credit: Look back on the past year and give yourself a pat on the back. You have been through a lot, with plenty of overwhelming and frustrating scenarios. Know that although some moments were difficult, you have continued to persevere. You may wish to build journalling or reflection into your routine and incorporate some “good for me” time into the week.

  2. Take special time to yourself: Self-care does not always mean a bubble bath with candles. Perhaps you feel you would benefit from getting to the gym three times a week, talking on the phone uninterrupted for half an hour, or simply taking a walk in the forest every once in a while. Whatever it is you need to regain your inner balance is good for the spirit, and it is worth hiring a sitter or writing some alone time into your schedule.

  3. Have a date night every once in a while: Parents with children with autism can find it hard to find time to be alone or spend quality time with one another. Your spouse or loved one is important, as is your relationship, and making a point of spending quality time together can rekindle your love and refresh your spirit.

  4. Try not to place judgment on yourself: Everybody has bad days, and everybody feels frustrated sometimes. Judging yourself is not a helpful process, so rather than looking back and wishing you could change the words you said or the things you did, as a parent you can focus on making tomorrow a more positive place for you and your child.

  5. Accept offers of help from others: When friends, neighbors, and family members offer to help, volunteer their time, or ask if you need anything, instead of jumping to “no”, try saying “yes please.” They may not do things the exact way you would, and maybe everything won’t go perfectly the first time, but introducing others into your child’s life, accepting help from loved ones, taking more space to breathe, and sharing responsibilities and experiences with others can deepen relationships and improve your quality of life.

  6. Research your area’s local resources for additional help: Support is out there in many forms, and sometimes all it takes is a phone call to lessen your burdens and get relief. As the saying goes, “no man is an island,” and talking to a support group, finding a therapist for your child or yourself, and getting guidance from professionals and people who have been in your shoes may take some stress off your shoulders.
Group therapy at The Cardinal Center can help your child with ASD

Resolve to Get Considerate, Expert Help this New Year from The Cardinal Center for Behavior Analysis

At the Cardinal Center for Behavior Analysis, we offer one-to-one Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children ages 2 to 18, including a school readiness program called “SOAR,” which focuses on scholastic, occupational, and academic readiness skills. Using evidence-based practices, our passionate staff is there to help you. Whether you are looking for parent training help or want to access our in-home services (available in select locations), we will help you develop a personalized treatment plan for your child. If your child is older, we also provide a social skills group designed specifically for teenagers.

Please call us at 919-642-4789 to learn more about how we can help you meet your parenting goals in the new year. With no waitlist, we can provide the stability, care, and support that you and your family need now.

Group therapy at The Cardinal Center can help your child with ASD


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