Setting Goals With Your Kids
What better time than right now to start teaching your kids the value of setting goals and working toward achieving them?
You have all sorts of goals for your kids, I’m sure. But have you ever asked them about their goals for themselves? Maybe they haven’t thought about their own goals yet, but that’s about to change.
Over the next few days, use the New Year as an opportunity to introduce the idea of goals to your kids. Explain that it’s typically a time of taking stock of the past year and figuring out ways to make the next year even better. Give examples of your own goals, where appropriate, paying attention to the messages you’re sending (i.e. ” to become healthier” instead of “to lose weight”).
You can help your child identify a goal by asking questions such as,
- What would you like to achieve/accomplish in the next ____ days?
- What new skill do you want to learn?
- What experience do you want to have?
- What area of your life do you want to improve or make better? (these areas could include school, relationship with siblings, extracurricular activities, making friends, etc.)
- How do you want to help make the world a better place?
- What’s a problem you’d like to help solve?
The goal can be a little bit challenging, to get them outside of their comfort zones, as long as it’s still achievable.
Depending on your child’s age, narrow his ideas down to one or two goals, and try to keep the length of time needed to achieve them brief (30-90 days). There are two reasons for this: 1) it creates more focus and a sense of urgency that increases productivity and motivation and 2) they can see the results of their efforts more quickly.
Once they’ve chosen a goal for themselves, don’t judge it! Become curious by asking some of the following questions:
- How do you think you’ll feel when you accomplish that?
- How will you know that you’ve achieved your goal?
- What are some obstacles you might face? How will you handle them?
- What are the pros and cons of reaching this goal? Are there things you’ll need to give up in order to reach it?
- What else do you need to learn or find out about in order to accomplish this?
- Who else can help you reach your goal?
After you’ve talked about the goal a bit, help your child break it down into smaller tasks or action steps.
Let’s say your child’s goal is to have her own vegetable garden. Help her break down each stage into tiny, manageable steps. For example, she’ll need to learn about the different kinds of gardens (i.e. containers in the window, outdoor raised beds, or indoor), which vegetables grow best in your setting, and how to maintain them). Each one of those topics can be another baby step to reaching the end result.
Speaking of the final outcome, try not to focus on it too much. If critters munch on the newly planted veggies, that presents opportunities to learn about overcoming obstacles. You can take your child to a nearby garden center (Home Depot has them) to discuss options to keep the garden growing.
The process of setting the goal and learning from trial and error is the real accomplishment. You can assess and evaluate the process along the way and make adjustments. Discuss what your child learned and how she can attempt her goal again using her new knowledge.
Encourage your child to write down her goal, as the act of putting it on paper has been proven to increase the likelihood of attaining it.
Finally, celebrate your child’s efforts whether she reaches her goal or not. The skill of setting goals and going after them will serve her well throughout her life.
In the comments below, share one of your goals for the next 90 days and I’ll do my best to help hold you accountable!
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