Goal-Setting with Kids

Goal setting with kids

Run a marathon? Perform in a play? Learn how to play chess?

The beginning of the year is always a great time to strategize, visualize and discuss what we really want to achieve in 2015.   While adults often discuss resolutions, January is also the perfect opportunity to help our children set realistic goals that will challenge and fulfill them in the coming year.

How can we do that?

Ask them what they want: A goal is something we want to do, have or achieve—and something we don’t mind working for until we attain! What is your child’s goal? Sit down with your children and discuss some options. Make sure the goal comes from them so that they are fully invested in the process and the result.

Help them to visualize the end: When I present on goal-setting, I tell my audiences; “Dream as if you’ve already been to the finish line. A true test of clear vision is an unmistakable sense of déjà vu once a goal is realized.” We need to help children go through the process of imagining what their goal will be like once it’s been achieved. At the moment of actualization, what will they see, sense and say? Who will be present and what will they feel? If they can see it, even if it’s in their mind, they will believe it can happen.

Discuss logistics: If they truly want to achieve this goal, who will they need to enlist to help them? In particular, if they need to be driven to a specific location every Tuesday and Thursday, they must ask someone to drive them. If they want to learn how to swim, knit or ride horses, they must ask someone to teach them. Help them to make a plan and ensure that all those involved are in the know and in agreement.

Talk about sacrifices: What are your children willing to give up in order to put the time and effort necessary to achieve their goals? If they want to learn how to play an instrument and play in a band, they may not be able to commit to being the stage manager in the musical this year. If they want to become a competitive soccer player, dancer, gymnast, martial artist or diver, they must be willing to give up other activities that may take up their extra time and resources.

Pin down barriers to success: Goal-setting takes honesty. We often talk about what it will take to achieve a goal but we also must discuss what can get in our way. Is your child known for procrastinating? Perfectionism? Quitting when the going gets tough? Laying all the cards on the table and getting a commitment from your children regarding expectations and fulfillment before moving forward is mandatory.

Provide accountability options: Anyone who sets a goal needs to be accountable for the work that gets put into it and the obligations they’ve made. Encourage them to write out what they are going to do, by when they are going to do it and how they will let you (or whomever they will be accountable to) know that they’ve done it.

Along the way, don’t forget to celebrate successes! Your children will be thrilled about their progress as well as with their well-deserved praise for sticking with something even when it gets challenging. And remember; by going through the goal-setting and goal-getting process now, they will learn that whatever they set their minds to, they can achieve. What a great lesson now…and for the future!

Dr. Robyn Silverman


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