Teaching Kids to Set and Achieve their Goals
The new school year has started! Now is the PERFECT time to start talking to your child about goals for the upcoming year. Mind you, these goals don’t have to be limited to academic progress (though that’s certainly a good one)! Worthwhile goals are academic, athletic, social, or personal. So how can you help your child choose meaningful goals, and how can you motivate him/her to pursue them?
Setting the Bar
It’s important that kids choose a goal or goals that are intrinsically important to them– not goals that help them to please others or win some kind of reward. Start by modeling your own process, thinking aloud as you choose a goal for yourself. Then, help your child to brainstorm his/her own goals. The important thing is to stand back and let your kid decide. The point is to teach THEM how to set and achieve a goal, NOT to try to influence them to do something that would please you.
Make it a SMART Goal
Goals are likely to be achieved when they are…
Help your child shape their initial, broad goal into a SMART one! This will maximize their chance of achieving it. The goal “be healthier” can be adjusted to “eat one piece of fruit or one vegetable with every meal”.
Make them Accountable
Better yet, encourage them to make themselves accountable. First and foremost, encourage them to be accountable to themselves by having them write down the goal. Have them display it somewhere prominently (bedroom, locker, cell phone lock screen, or refrigerator). Then, have them choose a reliable person in their life who they can check in with at set periods of time.
Accept the things you cannot change.
Make sure your child sets a goal that is not vulnerable to circumstance. The goal of getting an A in English class depends in part on the teacher who assigns the grade. A more actionable goal would be “study for English class 30 minutes after school every day, and check in with the teacher once a week for help”. This puts the ball entirely in the student’s court.