Goal setting for kids
It’s never too early to have a tangible goal and a plan to achieve it.
An important part of growing up is learning to be independent and to feel a sense of ‘I did this all on my own.’ Children gain self-confidence by achieving what they set out to do, but at times they don't know what they are supposed to be doing in the first place. Helping them set personal goals will give them that much needed guidance.
In addition, getting into the habit of setting goals and seeing them through will help them continue to do so into their teen years and adulthood.
Steps to goal-setting
Goal setting for teensDoes having set goals help children focus?
- Ask your child what they want to achieve. Many times young children have huge dreams such as ending world hunger. Don't tell them they can't. Simply break this big dream into smaller and smaller goals until it becomes an easy goal they can reach. For example, making sandwiches for a hungry child on the street is a small goal that still allows your child to feel they are saving the world.
- Start with easy goals and then allow your child to build on their success as they grow in confidence. For young children, try not to set more than 2 goals at a time.
- Let your children come up with ideas themselves. Don't simply set the goals for them.
- A child's first goals should not be extremely challenging. It must be able to be achieved in a few weeks at most. We often forget what time feels like to a child - a week can feel like an exceptionally long time.
- Write down your child's goals for them (if they can't write for themselves yet), and let them draw pictures or stick them onto a goal chart. It is important that they see their goals every day.
- It is important to talk to your child about WHY their specific goals are important. For example, for the goal of ‘I will keep my room tidy for a whole week’, the reason why could be: ‘So that I am proud of my room when my friends visit’ or ‘So that I can find what I am looking for easily’.
- Discuss with your child what the goal will look like when it is achieved - how they will know when they have reached their goal. For example, a tidy room looks like...
- Ask your child how they will FEEL when they achieve this goal - make them excited about getting to that point.
- Set a good example by having written goals of your own and let your children see you working towards them regularly.
- Make a big deal out of goals achieved. Give lots of praise, and in exceptional circumstances, it may be appropriate to give a reward
- A good idea to show a goal's progress is drawing a goal ladder or chart. For example, if the goal is to have a tidy room for a whole week, then every day the room is tidy your child gets a star or tick on a rung of the ladder. After 7 stars they reach the top and can get a reward. Remember to ask them how they feel about having a tidy room. Emphasise the goal achieved, not the reward.