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Teaching children the importance of goal setting

Setting goals and working together
Setting goals and working together
Support from their surroundings

Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and charge after them in an unstoppable manner. 
                                    - Les Brown

As they grow children develop the need to make choices for themselves, even plans for their daily lives or future. They learn to make important decisions regarding their own best interests, or sometimes against their own best interests, this falls in to a trial and error category. This decision, and choice, making process is an important part of every child's development. This skill is most often gained by watching parents, and other adults, in their lives do the same. This is the ageless act of learning by example. Unfortunately, not every child has a wonderful example to learn from.

Along with the ability to make appropriate choices, the art of goal setting is high on the list of things that children need to learn. This ability is what helps a child meet their dreams for the future. Again, this can be a part of learning by example. However, this is only true if they have an adult in their lives that set goals on a constant basis and work for them regularly. From small goals that can be seen happening soon, and larger goals that are set out in the future, and worked for slowly.

Helping a child learn the importance of goals can help them to want to set goals of their own. This process is most effective if you can help your child first set a short term goal and help them to reach it. They will see the end result, they will feel the accomplishment of reaching it, and they will want to reach out to a long term goal.

It is amazing what results can be met by someone who is determined in reaching a goal. What is even more amazing is seeing a child set a goal, and know that they see the potential inside themselves that they will reach it and succeed. However, if a child sets a goal that they have failed at, it is important to reinforce the fact that they have not failed, because they have tried. The person who fails is someone who never tries at all.

Help a child in your life get started with goals. Here are the core elements to a good goal:

It's realistic. It's something that your child can accomplish in a given timeframe with hard work and planning.

It's healthy. Any goal set by your child should not hurt him if he achieves it-not emotionally, not mentally, and not physically.emotionally, not mentally, and not physically.

It's satisfying. A good goal will convey some deeper benefit when it's accomplished. It may help your child to advance his studies, or bring about personal growth or enhance a social skill.

If a goal meets these three criteria, the next step is to teach your child how to get from the initial point of setting the goal to the final point of achieving the goal.

Goal setting without creating a plan of action is little different than daydreaming. It's the process of developing a concrete plan for getting from point A to point B that makes goal setting a useful skill.

The steps to creating a plan are actually pretty simple.

Step 1: Have your teenager make a list of all the steps he needs to accomplish in order to reach his goal. If he plans to drive cross-country during the summer, his list may include items like planning a route, saving a set amount of money for expenses, tuning up his car, and finding two or three friends to travel with him.

Step 2: Have your teenager create a timeline for each major task. If the summer is nine months away, your teenager might plan the initial route in the first month and then spend some time in each subsequent month researching sections of the route for accommodations and attractions. Likewise he might set a monthly savings goal to make financing the trip a little easier.

Step 3: Have your teenager review the timeline for each major task at the beginning of each month or week. He should schedule time to work on the tasks so that they are accomplished when they need to be, to make steady progress. Teach your child to regularly review his timeline and task list and make adjustments as needed. If he falls short one week or completes more than expected, these adjustments will help him stay on track without leaving everything to the last minute.

Step 4: Teach your teenager to reward himself along the way. For a teenager, a long-term goal can seem as though it takes a lifetime to accomplish. By scheduling in regular rewards for tasks completed, you help your teenager maintain his enthusiasm as he works toward his goal.

Activities that require a goal: Music Lessons, gymnastics,sports


  • angie 5 years ago

    Excellent article. Thank you JJ. I've been missing your articles, glad to see you are back writing.

  • Karen 5 years ago

    I've been missing your articles too! Goal setting is so very important and I'm so glad that you've written about this. Keep it up Super Mom.

  • Jane 5 years ago

    Thank you, Jennifer, for this insightful article. I have missed your articles! Your children are indeed lucky to have a mom who knows and understands. Great work!

  • Doug 5 years ago

    Welcome back. There is nothing more important thaqn goal setting no matter how young (or not) you are.

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