Hello Brave One!

This newsletter is for all the caregivers out there. We know supporting loved ones can be hard work sometimes. Here’s 4 reasons to give yourself recognition for achieving your goals:

1- Modeling

Your child naturally looks to you to learn how to act in different situations. They observe and learn from your behaviors and how you act influences their choices for their own behaviors, including how they approach challenges and celebrate successes. It’s so easy to forget to celebrate our successes, and research on behaviorism shows us it’s so important. In CBT we pair a new but necessary behavior with something enjoyable- a reward (positive reinforcement). This increases the likelihood that the new behavior will be practiced in the future. Hot tip: Small manageable goals should be followed by pre-established rewards of equal value. For example:

“My goal is to follow through with tech boundaries for my child. If I do this consistently for one week, I will earn a latte.”

It is important to note that the caregiver goal does not depend on the cared-for (i.e. the child) reaching their goal, but rather the caregiver following through with the treatment plan.

“My goal is to reduce X accomodation(s). If I follow through with this, I will earn a movie night with my family.”

2- Motivation

Goal setting and successful achievement of these goals lead to rewards. When rewards honor the work done to achieve the goals, this can be motivating for future goal achievement. This motivation can encourage you to work as a team with your child to ensure you both reach your goals. Hot tip: Caregiver rewards should include at least 80% of self-rewards and 20% of family/partner rewards. Yes, you are a caregiver, but you are also an individual who deserves to be honored for your hard work! Point back to modeling if you need further encouragement to reward yourself. Don’t you want your child to reward themselves when they achieve goals? 

“If my child uses 8 or less reassurance tickets and I follow through on collecting them, and holding her accountable (and NOT giving in or avoiding), we will go for a bike ride together.”

  1. Validation

Validation means recognizing an emotional experience occurred. When you establish goals and rewards for yourself, you are validating that there are behavioral changes that need to be made and you will have an emotional response to these changes. 

“WOW! I’m really enjoying this new book I earned as a reward for following through on my goals!”

“It was really a lot of work to be firm on X’s treatment goals but I supported them by remaining consistent AND I have 30 minutes of free time for myself as my partner makes dinner!” 

Rewards do not need to cost money, they do not need to be food, and they do not need to be original or new ideas/things. Rewards are not bribes because they are pre-established. If they involve something with your child or loved one, they should be clear, and agreed upon when making the goals. Hot tip: Using a reward system makes a behavior more likely to occur again. Because it feels good!

  1. Self-worth

Mental illness is not your fault. Mental illness is not your child’s fault. Accommodations and reassurance-giving happen when appropriate skills are not learned or implemented. They might have happened out of survival, and now that you are in treatment, they need to be readjusted to make room for healthy behaviors. 

One of the unfortunate side effects of mental illness is low self-worth. So while you are working on establishing healthy behaviors, you are working on increasing your self-worth. Honoring your work can be as simple as writing a list of your accomplishments. You can further honor those accomplishments with a reward. Do you need more persuasion? Re-read #1 and consider how modeling your self-worth will help your child demonstrate their self-worth. Hot tip: Make your goals like you would set an intention and honor your rewards like you would make a toast at a dinner party. 

“That was hard, and I did it! I will continue to notice and celebrate every time I don’t give reassurance to my loved one.”

“Here’s to me! For all my hard work, I deserve this!” (Visualize yourself raising an ice cream cone and saying this phrase).

Stay Brave! -The OCD MN Team