Goal setting

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Goal setting


Occupational therapists support people to do all the things that “occupy” their day, also called occupations. For children and youth, occupational therapists can facilitate the development of base skills that enable the child to engage in their everyday activities. This includes personal independence, and participation in self-care, play / leisure and schoolwork / homework. Working with their parents and teachers, occupational therapists can support a child in these areas.

Goal setting in Occupational Therapy

Goal setting is valuable way to allow us to support you and your child in activities at home, school and in the community. It helps us understand what is important to you and how we can work together.

Our goal is to empower you with more skills and knowledge, so when tricky situations arise for your child, you can problem-solve your way through them together.

Your goals might include:

  • increasing your skills or confidence in playing with your children.
  • knowing which activities to use to focus on different skills or body parts.
  • improving your understanding of your child’s strengths and favourite ways of learning.
  • adding to or discovering new ways to encourage your child to develop through play.

Occupational therapy with children is:

  • family-centred: Considers your whole family’s needs, priorities and lifestyle in goal setting.
  • client-centred: Considers your child’s current and future skills, abilities, and occupations.
  • occupation-focused: Considers what you and your child need to, want to and should be doing.
  • collaborative: Involves everyone working together and negotiating to achieve a common goal.
  • goal-directed: Ensuring therapy has SMART goals to work towards.


Remember, your goals should be:

  • Specific – What exactly do you want to accomplish? Make sure it is important to you. Break the goal down into smaller steps.
  • Measurable – How will you know when you reach the goal? It needs to be measured and monitored.
  • Achievable – How can your goal be achievable? Who or what do you need to reach the goal?
  • Realistic – Does the goal fit into your current and future lifestyle?
  • Timely – Is this a long-term or short-term goal? Set a deadline.

Example of a SMART goal: By November 2015, Jack will independently dress himself for school each morning. Jack’s parents will use a sing-along dressing song to motivate him. Jack’s success will be monitored on a rewards chart.


Resources for goal setting:

  • USC Child and Youth Clinic — “Ideas to improve your child’s attention and focus for fine motor activities” handout
  • Practica Program Blog — Setting SMART Goals as Parent

More information

USC Child and Youth Clinic
Level 1, Health and Sports Tower (Building T)
University of the Sunshine Coast
Sippy Downs, Qld 4556

Download the Goal setting brochure (PDF 8.6MB)

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