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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Tips for Creating Quality ABA Parent Training Goals

How do you select ABA parent training goals? Selecting ABA parent training goals has some similarities to how you would select goals for your clients for their direct ABA service.

ABA parent training goals as well as goals for direct ABA service should both be developed with the identification of socially significant behaviors in mind.

Additionally, both ABA parent training goals and goals for direct ABA service should be attainable. Goals should be strategically selected based upon your knowledge of the client and the family and what current level of functioning your client has, what resources the family has access to, and what the client is likely to achieve. Of course, we can’t make any promises of what a child will be able to learn with ABA services including with ABA parent training, but we can use our clinical expertise to make an educated hypothesis about what skills the client may learn next.

When selecting ABA parent training goals, we should be sure to use clear and understandable language so that the parent feels confident in their ability to implement the plan and have an accurate view of what the end target is for their child. When we, as professionals, don’t make our interventions clear and understandable or when we use too much technical language (especially without training on that technical language) we make it difficult for parents to implement the interventions we develop.

We should also collaborate with parents when creating ABA parent training goals. Collaboration means that we will take into consideration what the parent wants in terms of their child’s goals. The professional should not be simply coming up with all the client’s goals without getting input from the parent. It is recommended that the ABA professional consult with the parent on what is important to them for their child to learn. Being able to have this conversation with a parent is an art that takes empathetic listening and clinical skills to obtain the necessary information and then to transform quality ABA parent training goals from the dialogue between parent and professional.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: ABA Parent Training: Tips for Quality Applied Behavior Analysis Parent Training

Without talking to a parent first about what goals they would like to focus on while also balancing the act of providing clinical recommendations and guidance, you lose out on what is possibly most meaningful for the client and their day to day life. For example, if you simply observe the child (client) in your clinic and base your ABA parent training goals on those observations or a language-based assessment, you may miss out on socially significant issues.

By talking to a parent, you may find out that the child elopes from the car every time that they go places in public or you may find that the child urinates in odd places at home or holds their bowel movements. You may also discover through collaboration with parents about how the child is functioning at get-togethers with relatives or at school or about their struggles with skills of daily living. These areas are all socially significant areas of functioning that would be important to address but are likely only going to be explored with collaboration between professional service provider and the parent.

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To recap, the development of ABA parent training goals should include the following factors (although this is not an exhaustive list):

  • ABA parent training goals should focus on socially significant skills and behaviors.
  • ABA parent training goals should be attainable.
  • ABA parent training goals should be developed using clear and understandable language.
  • ABA parent training goals should be created through collaboration between service provider and parent.

Learning to work effectively with parents is not always taught directly in ABA training programs. However, it is an important aspect to providing quality ABA services to children with all levels of abilities since parents play such an important role in that child’s development.

You can also check out Parent Training Recommendations for ABA Professionals for more ideas on creating ABA parent training goals and developing this service in your clinical expertise.

Tips for Creating Quality ABA Parent Training Goals

APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2019). Tips for Creating Quality ABA Parent Training Goals. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/child-therapist/2019/05/tips-for-creating-quality-aba-parent-training-goals/