As teens and young adults, even older adults, we learn to set goals for everything. New years resolutions, weight loss goals, professional goals, and personal growth goals. I believe that small and large goals help us to achieve our desires, and reaching our goals motivates us to do more, set more goals.
So what about our children? How early should our children learn to set their goals? As early as possible! Setting and reaching goals for children will do the same for them as adults. It will motivate them, and teach them personal growth and positive self-esteem.
So what kind of goals should we start with? SMART goals! Meaning: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Adults follow these same steps for setting goals, so why not our children?
Examples of goals that could be beneficial for them are the following:
- Interact Socially – steps for getting along with peers
- Develop Strong, good self-concepts – steps for developing a strong sense of self.
- Be Happy with school ideas and new friends – steps for finding happiness in strange and new situations.
- Steps for developing Self Control.
- Develop awareness of others feelings
- Coping with stressful situations
- Problem-Solving skills
- Develop good physical skills
These are all skills that they will need to learn anyway when they are in early education, however, why not help them more when at home? I am a firm believer of constant improvement, and I want my boys to be able to set their own goals without needing to be guided in the future.
Being able to set goals is a skillset that can be learned and taught. It’s not a natural talent, with the proper guidance and lessons, we can teach our children to learn different goal setting skills that will be extremely valuable to them.
Let’s start with the steps below.
FOUR STEPS FOR SETTING EFFECTING GOALS WITH YOUR CHILD.
- Let them choose their own BIG goal.
This is important. Children need to know that whatever they want to accomplish, it’s not impossible. It might just take a lot more steps to get where they want to go. The larger the goal, the more steps it takes. It’s important they know that too.
A good question to start with is “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”
2. Discuss the purpose of their goal.
Ask them why these goals are important to them? Ask them to list the reasons why they want these goals to be met?
3. Break the big goal into smaller steps.
No matter how old or young we are, when faced with a large goal that we want, it feels overwhelming and impossible. Not a lot of people can take a goal and break them into smaller, doable steps. Some of us just see an impossible feat and give up before we start. But what if we were taught as children to look at a very large goal, and learn to analyze, and break it apart in a lot of smaller steps that are achievable? GAME CHANGER.
4. Brainstorm potential obstacles and solutions – write them down.
Teach your children that when setting goals, plans don’t always go as planned. Very rarely actually. There WILL be obstacles. As long as obstacles are expected, and solutions are planned, then giving up is not an option, and the chances of the goal being left behind in the dust are is lowered.
Make a list of potential obstacles and write down solutions for each one.
If your child wants to give up – what do you do?
Remind them of the following:
- Purpose – remind them why they wanted to set this goal, to begin with. And how important it was to them.
- Bring out the list you made of obstacles and solutions and see if the obstacle at the time is on the list, and if there is a predetermined solution.
- Recognize small accomplishments. Make sure that they recognize and see all the steps that they have already met.
- Give examples of your own struggles. If children can see that their parents are also met with a lot of their obstacles, but still reach their goals, then they will believe that they can too.
- Focus on improvement.
- Celebrate effort, determination, persistence. Celebrate all their hard work, and celebrate all the times that they did NOT give up, that they kept trying.
- Teach positive self-talk. As adults, we know that negative self-talk comes naturally, but positive self-talk is rare. Positive self-talk is a great skill set to learn, and better if learned at a younger age. It’s more natural.
In conclusion, we should be teaching our children to set their goals, and more importantly, we should be teaching them to set the necessary steps that they need in order to REACH their goals. Everyone has goals. But a goal without a plan is just a dream. Dreams are good to have, but we can turn dreams into REALITIES with our goals.