How to Help Your Kids Set and Reach Goals

*Sponsored Guest Post by Sarah Morgan

Our little kids are naturally dreamers of what they want to be in the future. Probably it’s because of the people they see around them. But because the individuals surrounding them change, they change their wishes as well.

My little girl for one has aspired to become a firefighter, a doctor, a McDonald’s crew, and a driver. It’s funny to look at, but it tells us one thing: our kids don’t know how to make up their mind yet.

So with their fluctuating mindset, how do we train our children to be goal setters and reachers?

5 Fun Activities To Teach Goal Setting

Let them choose the goal. I understand that we as parents have our own dreams for our babies even before they came into this world. While that is normal, it can be dangerous.

I have seen a number of parents who enrolled their children in different art and music schools only to have a frequently absent child in the end.

Our kids’ involvement is crucial in every goal setting because it is what they really want. Letting them voice out their preferences makes them think they matter in this decision making.

To make it fun, let them be as creative and imaginative as they want then write it down.

Filter the goal and explain why. At three years old, my daughter wanted to be a forklift driver. She was so determined that she would always volunteer to “drive” whenever she could. She would sit on the driver’s lap (either me or my brother) and maneuver the steering wheel. Well, at least in her perspective.

While it is good to know that she is determined to be a forklift driver, it can also be misleading. For her. A three year old can’t even ride a bike without bumping into something. What more with a heavy machinery?

This is where we step in and explain to them why their chosen goal may not yet be achievable at their age.

Use visual aids when explaining so they can get a grasp of this abstract idea. They won’t be able to understand what unachievable means, so you have to explain really well.

In my case, I was lucky to be residing near a publishing house where they use a forklift to transport the books from the warehouse to the delivery truck.

I brought my daughter there with me one day and showed her the forklift. The sight of its size scared her and that alone changed her mind. “I just want barbie dolls, mommy” she said on our way home.

After our kids realized how far-fetched their goal is, go back to the first step and let them try again. But make sure that the goal you set together is not too easy for your child.

Draw the goal. Once you have determined a reachable goal for your little one, draw it on a clean and special piece of paper.  If your kids are big enough, let them do the sketching. This will let your child feel that his or her goals are special. Include the date the sketch was drawn.

The drawing has to be as detailed as including the date and the milestones to achieve the target.

Including the steps in the drawing helps your child not to be overwhelmed by the target. The small chunks of the entire goal helps him/her see the tiny, doable acts. They will develop the “that’s simple; I can do that” attitude.

Also, including the steps help you carry out the next phase of goal setting and reaching.

By the way, paste your child’s goal somewhere conspicuous to set a reminder.

Check progress. Using the drawing your tot created for step 3, examine his progress. If there’s a date to the steps, you may check on the date indicated. You may also check every once in a while.

If it has been weeks from the time the goal was set, and nothing has changed, maybe you should reevaluate the goal (or your child).

I tried to make it more fun for my daughter by covering the milestones that are not yet the target for the time being. This way, she was able to focus on the small steps she had to do to get to the bigger goal.

The added suspense of what’s to come next also thrilled her. “What’s next? What’s next?” She would ask as I uncover the succeeding steps.

Give reward. Is it OK to give rewards? Experts have varying opinion on this, but I can say that it worked well for my daughter. I just had to make sure to focus on appreciating the effort.

Also, I did not lavish her with expensive toys. From the beginning of the goal setting, we also decided what she would get for every achievement she makes. They were as simple as getting a sticker, a star, or watching her favorite movie.

We wrote these rewards on a piece of paper and after reaching a step toward the goal, we would randomly pick one. The surprise factor adds to the fun.

In addition, I emphasize intrinsic motivation. Whenever she accomplishes one of her subgoals, I talk with her about it. “How did you feel doing it?” is my first question. Although her responses are short, I believe it made her think about her actions and why she’s doing it.

What I’m trying to say is, when motivating your kids for this activity, make sure there is balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivations.

What to do next

After reaching your child’s first goal, make it a habit to do the same for the other goals. It may be laborious on your part, but you are training your child to be an achiever in the long run.

Once your kids have made goal setting and reaching a part of their routine, you can rest assured that you have leader in the making.

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