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July 18, 2024

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Goal Setting 101 for Kids

Replace vague ideas about what your child wants by attaching a concrete way of achieving it!

Make a list. Try to envision it. Exercise more.
While plenty of adults set goals for themselves, it’s a powerful skill you can teach your children. A goal can be something as simple as completing a homework assignment or learning more about a particular subject. And of course, when it comes to kids, goals need to be age appropriate and you need to really know your child. Guiding kids is your responsibility, but by knowing your child you can create an environment that builds on his strengths and lowers his weaknesses.
Goal setting is something that all successful people do, so let’s get started:

Steps to Help Kids Set & Achieve Goals

  • Start early.
    Provide structure for goal setting by having your child save for a special item, work toward a specific grade in school or master a song on the piano.
  • Make sure the goal is child directed.
    You can give input but it needs to be the child’s idea for him to truly embrace it.
  • Write it down.
    Make sure it’s clear and sensible. Have your child include why it’s important to him. Hang it in his bedroom, on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror so he can see it. Or get a binder to chart progress and let him decorate the front of it.
  • Outline specific steps on how to attain the goal.
    Break it down into smaller steps so he’ll feel a sense of accomplishment along the way.
  • Take advantage of resources.
    Utilize books, DVDs, the Internet, lessons and third-party influences to help your child increase his understanding and hone his skills.
  • Consider hurdles and ways to overcome those hurdles in advance.
    If children know there will be road bumps along the way, it can ward off discouragement. Remind your child that obstacles are opportunities to strengthen his resolve.
  • Set a time frame for attaining the goal.
    Have your child write down an approximate deadline for achieving the goal to provide a sense of urgency and keep him on track.
  • Monitor and chart progress tangibly.
    Have your child chart progress he has made with pictures, medals, report cards, etc., and add to his notebook for continued encouragement.
  • Re-adjust time frame, if necessary.
    Remind your child that there may be unforeseen circumstances (stumbling blocks) that keep him from attaining his goal in the allotted time. Encourage him to re-adjust the time frame and continue on.
  • Be a cheerleader.
    Provide support and encouragement. Take an interest in his goal, attend his activities and look for other ways to support your child without taking charge of the goal.
  • Be a mentor.
    Talk about your own personal goals β€” the trials you faced in trying to achieve them. Demonstrate perseverance and discipline, and continue to set personal goals for yourself.

    Goal-Setting Resources

  • SMART Goals: Goal Setting for Kids and Teens
    by Arnie Lightning

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day, Editor

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.