As parents, one time or another, we have all experienced the frustration of knowing our children aren’t trying hard enough to accomplish what we know they are more than able to do. While the initial reaction would be to harp and push, it’s important not to get overly agitated about their lack of ambition and instead turn your efforts into teaching them how to set and reach goals – even at a young age.
Teaching children how to set and achieve goals at a young age forms a lifelong habit that will help them as they get older. It also teaches them about responsibility, resilience when there are setbacks and helps build their self-confidence.
It’s not as difficult as you may think to instill the importance of goal setting in your children. With a few simple steps you can plant the seed:
- Start by looking for ways your child already sets goals, even though they may not realize that’s what they’re doing. For example, if they are trying to save money for a particular toy or activity, take this opportunity to discuss the steps that will need to be taken in order to save enough. Explain how good it feels to get something once you’ve worked hard to get it.
- Start small – Help your child pick a small, fun goal that can be reached in a relatively short amount of time – maybe a craft project or finishing a short book. Starting with small goals is a great way to teach children to work toward bigger goals and show them that sometimes reaching a big goal means reaching a few small goals first.
- Let them be involved in choosing the goals they want to reach. Of course, we want them to have make the honor roll or make the sports team, but these may be more YOUR goals than theirs. Letting them choose what they want to achieve is often better because it allows them to take ownership of the steps needed to reach the goal, as well as the actual accomplishment.
- Be supportive – as your child begins to work toward setting and reaching their goals, be the biggest cheerleader you can be for them. Applaud their efforts no matter how big or small and let them know you see how hard they are trying.
- It’s never too early to start instilling the importance of setting and reaching goals in your children. And while these steps are a great way to get the ball rolling, remember that we are our children’s biggest teachers so be prepared to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
There are also fun activities you can do as a family to showcase and practice setting goals. For example, each family can create a bucket list where you write down or draw pictures or goals you would like to meet. As you reach your goals, date them and look back on them at the end of the year to reflect on what each family member accomplished. If someone didn’t quite reach their goal yet, use it as an opportunity to talk about the steps they’ve taken so far, where they are having difficulties and ideas regarding how to overcome them, and what small victories they can reach to help them accomplish their overall goal.
What ways does your family practice setting and accomplishing goals?