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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Let's Play! 7 Tips to Encourage Goal-Setting in Children

Photo by jayneandd (Flickr)

2015 is finally here! A new year promises more success and less stress, right? There's a sense of renewal we all share as we imagine what this fresh start has to offer. We make promises to ourselves and our families. We want to be more healthy, improve as parents, and nurture new talents. A crucial step towards fulfilling our aspirations is to set goals!

Goal-setting seems like a snap, but it often proves daunting when we really dive into the thick of it. When goals are split into realistic steps, the joy of success can unfold! As parents, we can help set our kids on a path of perseverence and triumph by teaching them how to set solid goals. It's a vital skill that will inspire every aspect of their lives.

Here are 7 tips to encourage goal-setting within your children:

  1. Don't Be Pushy: This is a major blunder. A surefire way to sabotage your child's goal-setting is to be forceful and overbearing. They need to muster up motivation on their own. Offer as much encouragement and support as you can, but don't harp on small things and avoid outrageous expectations. They are kids; they deserve freedom and fun!
  2. Let Them Decide: How would you feel if someone else decided what you should strive for? The most attainable goals are those sparked by own passions. The same goes for children. Feel free to give input, but ultimately, it's up to them what they set their sights on (as long as it's safe). Our kids are unique, budding individuals and we should respect and celebrate that!
  3. Rewards: Achieving a goal feels absolutely amazing, right? As parents, we want our kids to experience this gratification. To spark a go-getter attitude, we can offer compliments that are personal and empowering, such as, "That's impressive. When you care about something, you really go after it!"
  4. Self-Starter: This piggybacks onto letting them choose their goals. While we can help them formulate a plan and be accountability buddies, we should avoid caving to the parental instinct of doing it all. Kids need to explore the full dynamic of fulfilling a goal, even if that includes failure. We can foster independence in our kids by letting them navigate.
  5. Be a Role Model: If you want to instill a healthy relationship with goals in your children, pursue healthy goals yourself. Tell them what you want to achieve and how you'll go about doing it. Including them in the process is a wonderful way to start small and build dedication. For example, enlist their help in a household project such as creating a vegetable garden. They can till the soil or pick out seeds for their own patch. Not only will they get to relish in the satisfaction of a job well done, they'll enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor!
  6. Be Realistic: As much as we want our kids to believe anything is possible, we need to be prepared to deliver a gentle but encouraging reality check. Kids don't quite grasp the full extent of reaching a goal just yet, so frustration and burnout may strike. Rather than feed their doubts and veer them towards smaller objectives, map it out for them: Tell them what the challenges are and what they'll need to do to accomplish it.
  7. The 5-Step Plan: Jim Wilten's 5-step plan is an simple, compelling way to launch your kids on the right foot. First, write it down, such as, "To become better at playing the saxophone." Second, narrow the goal down into something measurable, such as being able to play a certain song that requires a realistic level of mastery. Third, define pro's and con's. If the con's severely outweigh the pro's, a goal realignment may be in order. Fourth, define who can help, what needs to be done, and when it will be done. Lastly, have progress monitored. As a parent, you can offer to record their playing and offer feedback.

In what ways do you encourage your kids to set goals? How do you inspire them to keep at it? I'd absolutely love to hear your feedback!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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