Goal setting is a vital life skill for children to learn. Even if you are not in the habit of setting goals yourself, you can see the value this holds for your family. When your children start to set goals, they instantly have a roadmap they can follow. They will work harder and achieve more and reaching their goals will help to bolster their self-esteem.
Let them Choose
Studies show that kids are far more engaged with goals they have chosen themselves. Get them to write a list of short, medium and long-term goals. Then refine the list and help them to solidify definite goals to work towards.
Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (SMART). Vague ideals like “I want to do better at school” won’t suffice. You need to be specific so “I want to go up a grade in math next semester” is a more practical goal.
Goals must be measurable so that your kids can see their achievement or improvement.
Attainable goals should be challenging, but not out of reach. Asking your child to go from a D to an A in one semester is overwhelming for them and if they fail to achieve this, their self-esteem may be negatively affected. Instead, go for goals that are attainable so that they can build on each victory and feel motivated to do even better.
Goals must be relevant to your child’s life and have a time frame. You can improve relevancy by offering rewards that they really want. For example, if they can’t see the relevance of doing well in math, offer them an attractive reward for improved performance.
Make a Roadmap
Now that you have established goals and set a time limit, you need to set out a roadmap to get there. This is where your child can really benefit from your input. If their goal is to go up a grade in math by the end of the semester, ask them how they will go about improving. Make a firm commitment to more hours of practice every week. Be very specific here—from 4-5 every Tuesday and Thursday.
Offer to get an in-home tutor who can help them to fill in their missing building blocks, help with their math homework and help with test preparation.
Talk about changing attitudes and how that can contribute to an improvement. Working together to find solutions will improve their commitment to the outcome.
Be a Good Example
Creating goals and working to achieve them in your own life is the best way to motivate your children to do the same.