The Power of Setting an Intention

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Have you found the power of setting an intention?

The Power of Setting an Intention

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When I first started working with children on the autism spectrum my sessions were watched through a one-way mirror and feedback was given after each child was seen. One day, I came out of a session that I thought had gone pretty well. The child and I had connected, he had made eye contact, played nicely with me and did at least one thing that I had requested. During the feedback, my boss asked me, “So what was your intention?”

I told her, “I was looking to connect, get eye contact, encourage language and have a positive interaction.”

“That’s all good, but you should always have a clear intention in mind beyond the basics. Eye contact, building a relationship and interacting with each other are the foundation on which you build skills. Whenever you are working with a child you should have a clear intention in mind. It may be working on prepositions or making the sound “b”. Whatever the intention, keep it in mind when you start the session and make sure to incorporate it into most of your interactions. If you are clear about setting an intention it will help you keep focused on your goal.”

That turned out to be excellent advice for work, for parenting and for all of my relationships. If we keep the intention in mind, that allows us to focus on the goal and not worry about distractions or ego. The power of setting an intention is a useful tool. Use the power of intention when working with children who have special needs, when parenting, at work and in your relationships.

It took awhile before the power of intention came more naturally to me. But over time, I learned that by taking a deep breath, being clear about what I want, what my intention is, I find that I can let go of being right or trying to control everything. Once I do that I actually have more power and control in reaching my goal.

The Power of Setting an Intention

At work, that means that I keep my eye on the prize. If I am working on reading comprehension with a child who has ADHD, then my clear intention is to give strategies to help that child understand and retain what they are reading. If the child wants to read in a silly voice or stand up while they read or have a fidget in one hand while they tap their foot, that’s okay with me as long as we are making progress with reading comprehension.

If I am working on handwriting then that is all we are doing. I will make it as fun and as easy as I possibly can. It is not important that the child writes the grandest sentence, we are focusing on letter formation. After they master the basic skill of letter formation then it will be time to work on crafting that grand sentence. If a child needs to learn to sit still at a table, then I am not going to combine sitting still with an activity that they do not prefer, I will try to entice them to sit still with something that they enjoy. There will be plenty of time for them to sit still with a non-preferred activity in the future.

Having an intention has been helpful with parenting, too. If I want my child to clean her room every Saturday I can get her into a good habit of cleaning by turning it into a game or hanging out with her while she cleans. There is no need to nag or get frustrated when she resists cleaning. Once the habit has been developed then the expectation is set and a new intention, like cleaning independently, (and without complaining) is formed.

Keeping focused on my intention allows me to let go of the small stuff. It helps me to focus on the goal without getting distracted or upset when issues come up. Haven’t we all met that difficult person who we just want to scream at? Well, if my intention is to let off steam that’s a grand way to act. However, if I want something from that person then it may be a good idea to just let the irritation go or let it out in another way later.


But having an intention is just that, an intention. Be ready to change your intention when necessary. Today was a good example of that. I had prepared a lesson for one of the kids with whom I work. I had planned that we would read, improve his reading comprehension, and do some vocabulary games. The intention being improving his reading skills. When I arrived at his house he greeted me with a paper that said “My Vacation”. I dropped my intention and we spent an hour writing and editing a paper about his vacation. He wrote more, edited more independently, and added in more details than ever before. By dropping my intention and adopting his we were far more successful than if I had dogmatically insisted on doing what I had initially planned.

The power of intention is a really useful tool with husbands, too. If I want that garbage taken out it is more likely to happen promptly if I approach it with sweetness rather than the irritation that wants to bubble out. My intention is not to win an argument or soothe my irritation I just want the stinky garbage taken out.

Deepak Chopra speaks about intention: “Intention is a force of nature, like electromagnetism. Intention orchestrates its own fulfillment. If you want intention to work for you, you have to have clarity about your intended outcome.”

Have you set a clear intention today?

More posts from Mosswood Connection:

Our Tips for Developing Social Skills
Our Tips for Developing Social Skills
Sensory Integration Strategies and Tips
Sensory Regulation Activities

 

Tips to Prepare Your Child for School
Tips to Prepare Your Child for School
Our Tips for Soothing the Anxious Child
Our Tips for Soothing the Anxious Child

 

 

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The Power of Setting an Intention. Set an intention when parenting, at work and with your relationships.

43 Comments




  1. My focus word this year is intentional. It’s the reason I started writing and then a blog. I was trying to figure out some issues in my life and this word kept popping in my head. It has changed my life! Its changed our homeschool and our family. Thank you for explaining this so well. I can’t wait to share this and help other people. Great post!!

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  2. This is a very positive way to think and act! I am sure you are doing a great job on your life. Congratulation!

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  3. Love the advice. Can you imagine all that we could accomplish if we were better at setting out intention in all we do?

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  4. My daughter is autistic so this is VERY helpful for me. I’m going to start doing this with her. Thank you!!

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    1. I’m so glad that it is helpful!

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  5. I really should start doing this! I would probably accomplish a lot more with intentions!

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  6. I should start setting intentions instead of just goals. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post.

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  7. This is such great advice. I never really understood what this meant, but you explained it so well. I really need to start doing this so I can really be clear in what I want to get done. Thank you!

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  8. Yes it is true, agree with this. Such a great tip for work, and life all in general

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  9. I haven’t thought about setting an intention, it was always about goals with me. I should start doing this for motivation.

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  10. i agree, sometime what we need is a deep breath. Thanks for sharing this !

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  11. This is so true! When you set an intention, you’re giving yourself a great outline and a goal to hit – whether its with teaching like yourself or getting stuff done off a home renovation list!

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  12. It’s true, I agreed, Thank you for sharing your idea to everyone

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  13. Setting intentions – not goals – is something that I do and it really works well for me! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter.

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  14. Good habits are learned. Very good post.

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  15. I like having my lists to keep me focused on what my intention is for the day but I try and (usually) succeed in not getting caught up in making sure I get it all done. Or worry about a change in plans.

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    1. Lists are a great way to stay focused!

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  16. Oh yes, everything I do is deliberate. I like to plan before I act.

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  17. What a great post on intention! I know I don’t always set very clear intentions, but I do set some. When I create a list of tasks I want accomplished in a day or week, that always helps me to stay focused on what I want/need to do, rather than just doing this that and the other all the time.

    I also agree that sometimes it’s important to be flexible with your intentions and that can mean dropping them and picking up a different one for a time. 🙂

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    1. Lists are a great way to keep intentions in focus.

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  18. Ahhhh breaking things up in steps really helps when Doug anything with my daughter. I think she gets overwhelmed sometimes and when you say things in steps, it makes it so much easier 🙂

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    1. I like things broken down into steps, too.

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  19. This makes sense. If I want my daughter to clean her room (a challenge in and of itself!) it helps when I break it down into steps. Instead of “Put everything away!” I tell her “Put your socks in the drawer, your clothes in the hamper and Puppy on your bed.” Sometimes it works! 😉

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  20. What a positive idea! Setting and keeping clear intentions when working with kids. Love it! It also takes the emphasis off blaming kids for not learning and on the teacher.

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    1. Thanks, Megan. The emphasis on what a child learns should be put on the teacher. It’s our job to figure out how to best help our students.

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  21. Intentionality with flexibility is a beautiful concept. I struggle with the flexibility part but the story you told about helping the boy write his vacation story was a good example of how flexibility is important too. Finding Balance.

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    1. It’s true, Angela. Flexibility is a gift.

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  22. I love my job but found that I was not feeling quite as fulfilled. I decided to start each day with focusing on one thing I would do to make my job more inviting for me and enjoyable. I also speak positive things about my day and what I expect to happen. I love the results: a more positive day and outlook.

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    1. What a positive way to be proactive. That’s an awesome intention!

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  23. I loved the Deepak Chopra quote, too. I’d never really thought about the power of intention, but reading how you explain it sheds a whole new light on just simply solidifying an intention and working towards it in every day situations. I can also see, in situations where you’re slowly working towards a goal, it requires a lot of patience. I commend you for that. Patience is definitely an area I need to strengthen in order to take advantage of the things that require it. I’ll go into my next work or family situation with a specific intention AND the intention to strengthen my patience during the process!

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    1. Thanks, Tessa. I am a naturally impatient person. Setting clear intentions has really helped me learn to be more patient.

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  24. I 100% agree with this! Such a great tip for work, parenting and life in general! Great post!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Lauren!

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  25. I loved every single word of this. Though I pride myself on my parenting having a clear intention during our days would be very beneficial for both of us. I loved how you said, an intention essentially keeps your eye on the prize so that the inconsequential details aren’t given clout. I also love the example of letting a student with ADHD stand or tap his foot. When I used to tutor standing was an option for students in the we situation. I wish I had read this before I ever began tutoring. Now I’m thinking back to how beneficial intentions could have been. I’m rambling but I loved this from start to finish.

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    1. That means so much coming from you, Alana. I often get critical comments from people who come and observe about how I let the student squirm rather than sitting properly while reading. It’s great that there are people out there like you that know to “keep the eye on the prize”. 🙂

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  26. This is so important and will keep it in mind with my kids and also when I go back to teaching. I bet you are so amazing with the kids and families you work with.

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    1. That’s so sweet. Melissa. I am the one who feels lucky to work with some amazing families.

      Reply

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