Child mapping is a unique way to plan for your child’s future. It involves knowing your child’s strengths, needs and future dreams. Most child mapping processes are used with children who have special needs, however, in my opinion all types of children can benefit from this type of life structure.
This is NOT a quick fix for current issues or a replacement for proper assistance (like IEPs or professional therapy). Nor is this a guarantee that your child will hit the mark (like becoming President of the United States…). Finally, it’s NOT a way to control them or make them everything YOU wish you were (lets be real, they never wanted to be YOU anyway).
This IS a great way to understand the needs and strengths of your child and help him/her set goals to become a better, well rounded adult. Who wouldn’t want that for their kid?! So, let’s get started!
Who should be a part of the planning process?
Parents should always be involved in the planning process. It’s especially helpful if each parent fills out the domain questions separately before sharing with each other. This enables the parents, as a unit, to have a clearer picture of not only their view of the child but the possible differences in expectations.
The Child – if they are able to participate and are age appropriate, let them tell you their opinions also.
Siblings (of mature appropriate ages), close family or friends, and teachers, therapists or other professionals in the child’s life. These can all give outside perspective and a clearer view of the potential future.
Domestic (living skills)
What domestic activities/chores does your child presently participate in or are responsible for at home? (picking up toys, washing dishes, making bed, doing laundry, taking out trash, doing their homework, etc.)
What domestic areas would you like your child to receive instruction in?
Can your child make himself/herself understood at home and/or in the community?
How does he/she compensate for failed communication?
Does your child understand basic conversational rules? (taking turns, starting a conversation, maintaining conversation, eye contact, making a request, body language, actively listening)
Does your child initiate interactions with adults, peers and siblings?
Does your child understand how to appropriately handle conflict?
What leisure activities does your child participate in at home? (watching TV, riding bike, playing video games, personal hobbies, group games, etc.)
What community based activities does your child participate in? (sports, Scouts, church activities, etc)
What jobs/chores does your child help with or have responsibilities for at home? (mowing lawn, making bed, taking out trash, etc.)
What job does your child like to do best?
What job does your child like the least?
What type of work do you think your child would like best in the future?
What type of work do you think your child would like least in the future?
What activities within the community does your child presently participate? (shopping, doctor visits, haircut, educational activities like museums, etc.)
What community based activities would you like your child to receive instruction in?
List what motivates or sparks aliveness in your child. Then list what deadens, bores, or frustrates your child.
What decisions/choices do your child makes in their life? (what games to play, who to play with, what to eat for lunch, what to spend their money on, etc.)
What decisions are made by others on their behalf? (what to eat, when to go to bed, what to wear, who his/her friends are, etc.)
List Hopes (good school, employable, many friends, clear communication skills, etc.)
List Fears (lack of friends, discriminations, slim job opportunities, lack of education or skills, etc.)
What abilities would you like your child to have in the next year, five years and in adulthood? (what would be the ideal future for your child that you hope for)
Now that you know where your child is in regards to each of the domains, and you know where you want them to be in a year, five years and into adulthood, you can begin from the END and work to NOW.
I know, that sounds backwards…but that’s the key! If you know where you want them to be you can set realistic goals to help them reach their future goal by linking it directly to where they are now.
example: (since my guy is only 8yrs old, I just did up to 5 yrs for now)
5 years – Have a small group of good friends, care for self and personal items (clean room, do personal laundry) make basic meals, able to care for a younger sibling for up to 1 hour on own, complete homework in a timely manner, have spontaneous conversation with adults and peers.
1. Friends- make 3-4 friends and initiate play and other activities comfortably
2. Self Care- bathe, clothe, wash/dry/put away clothes, pick up room, make bed, make a basic meal for family 2xs a week
3. Care for Others- watch sibling (2yr+) safely for 45min-1hr (feed, entertain)
4.Conversation- talk with peers, neighbors, teachers, leaders sharing person feelings or worries when not prompted 4/5 times.
1. Friends- make 2-3 friends and initiate play 4/5 times with prompts
2. Self Care- bathe, clothe, wash/dry clothes, pick up room, make bed, make basic meal for family 1x per week
3. Care for Others- watch sibling (3yr+) safely for 30min-45min (feed, entertain)
4. Conversation- talk with peers, neighbors, teachers, leaders sharing personal feelings or worries when not prompted 3/5 times
1. Friends- make 1-2 friends and initiate play 3/5 times with prompts
2. Self Care- bathe, clothe, pick up room, make bed, make basic meal for self
3. Care for Others- watch sibling (4+yr) safely for 30min-45min (feed, entertain
4. Conversation- talks with peers, teachers sharing personal feelings or worries when prompted 4/5 times
1. Friends- make 1 friend and initiate play 3/5 times with prompts
2. Self Care- bathe, clothe, pick up room, make bed, get snack for self and others
3.Care for Others- play with sibling (3yr+) safely for 30min
4. Conversation- talks with peers and teachers sharing personal feelings or worries when prompted 3/5 times
1. Friends- make 1 friend and play safely
2. Self Care- bathe, clothe, pick up room, get snack for self
3. Care for Others- play with all siblings safely for 30min
4. Conversation- talks with peers and teachers sharing personal feelings when prompted 3/5 times
As you can see this process is not simple or easy…however, you don’t have to start with lots of goals. I think the best part of child mapping is you get a view of where your child is in their development and you’re able to see the holes where you need to address proper structure and skills to help them be more successful in the future.
Remember, you are responsible for your child’s development and their ultimate success in the future. So, what effort you put in now will show. Of course others may judge more harshly, but remember that they are NOT the parent and they don’t have all the information. Let their ignorance roll off your shoulders and take control of your abilities as a child mentor. You know them best! You are their best advocate, teacher, provider, emotional support and safety net.
I’ve seen my son grow leaps and bounds as I’ve started child mapping and finding creative solutions for him to exceed his goals. Some have included adding in other adults, professionals and peers. That’s fair, because it really does “take a village”.
How much will you put in the investment of your child’s successful future?!