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Helping Kids Set and Reach Goals


Setting goals is an incredibly useful skill in life, no matter what age you are. Helping your kids establish a habit of goal setting while they are young will give them the tools they need to be productive and successful teenagers and adults later on (as much as we hate to picture our kids growing up!). As 2015 begins, parents are excitedly trying to set goals and keep their New Year’s Resolutions at the forefront of their minds amid the post-holiday stress. Here are some ways you can involve your children in making family goals and help them reach their own personal goals this year!

Involve all family members.

Start the planning process this year by having a family meeting where the parents gather input from the kids on what goals they hope to accomplish this year as a family. This could be anything from taking a family vacation to better supporting each other in extracurricular activities each person participates in. If your family has goals they are all working toward together, family members can hold each other accountable and feel the rewards that come from goals being reached. In addition to family goals, making a big goal for each person to accomplish, and making everybody aware of it, will allow your family to support each other, keep each other on track, and celebrate your successes together.

Break down big goals into small, specific steps.

Breaking ambiguous goals into smaller more manageable steps will turn your dreams and wishes into attainable goals. If you and your daughter decide she wants to get better grades this quarter, make plans for how to achieve this, such as reading for an hour a day, waking up and going to bed on time, and meeting with a tutor regularly to get help with certain subjects. Set specific deadlines on when you want the smaller steps to be accomplished. If you’ve downloaded our free printable, use that “action” section to help you breakdown your goals.

Keep track of progress.

Make a chart that is someplace visible for the whole family so you can keep track of each others progress. You can even make goal-setting a friendly competition between the kids for a little added incentive. Writing goals down and looking at them frequently makes reaching your goals much easier.

Reward along the way.

When your kids conquer the small steps along the way, reward them for their efforts. Don’t bribe your kids with expensive gifts or withhold privileges, though. Using rewards relevant to the goal will help keep the process fun for kids and build good habits as they are working toward their larger goal.

Continually re-evaluate and change goals when necessary.

If a child sees their parents frustrated because of a lack of progress, they will probably get discouraged. Revisiting and assessing the importance of goals your kids have made not only helps to keep them on track, but also prevents your kids from feeling like they are failing. If, for example, your son set a goal to improve in a sport, but he has not improved, try sitting down with your child and re-evaluating the importance your child places on that goal. Perhaps your child is no longer interested in the sport! Be open to hearing their point of view, but don’t let them make all the rules. Come to a compromise and make a new goal that will make both of you happy! Even if the overall goal remains the same, re-evaluate the smaller steps to determine if the old ones just aren’t working.

We all have goals and dreams for our kids. Some parents hope this will finally be the week their toddler decides to wear big-kid underpants, the month their child learns to swim, or the year their child gets straight A’s in school. Even when your kids don’t necessarily have the same goals in mind, making them part of the process in a fun and motivating way will make them more likely to succeed now and in their future. Being an active part in their successes, failures, and all the steps in between is the best way we as parents can help our kids make goals and reach their inherent potential.

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