Sometimes we adults don’t think goal setting for kids would be worthwhile. And that’s where we’re wrong.
Goal setting can be a wonderful process if we start small. For example, you might set a small goal to eat only half of your favorite chocolate-walnut monster muffin today to scalp 150 calories from your daily diet. Not a big deal, right? If you did that everyday, that 150 calories per day would add up quickly into a real reduction in your waistline.
The same goes for kids. While their goals are probably vastly different than your own (please don’t feed them chocolate-walnut monster funs regardless!), it’s important to teach them how to identify what they want and to give them a process for achieving it. Think about it….How long did it take YOU to discover goal setting? Do you want YOUR kids to go through that same confused journey toward clarity? Goal setting for kids is a gift that will keep giving over their lifetimes.
With that in mind, where to start? Start where they are!
If they know even a little bit about money, buy them a piggy bank of their choice and have them start doing small chores around the house for a few coins. Teach them how much a nickel is worth vs. a quarter and what it means to earn a whole dollar. Again, harken back to when you were a kid. How did you feel when you had some coins jingling in your pocket for the first time? I bet you felt wealthy!
That’s a huge lesson right there: Wealth is an emotional state that far transcends money. Even many adults have forgotten this basic yet timeless truth, no longer feeling wealthy even with tens of thousands of dollars in the bank, a bevy of friends and time off to enjoy. Imagine the richness your kids could experience in life by understanding this truth now.
Okay, so that’s wealth. What else could your children set goals to do?
How about doing well in school? You could hang up a piece of poster board for each child (let them each decorate it how he or she wishes) and stick on another golden star sticker for every “A” on a homework assignment. Rewarding achievement is a wonderful way to plant the seeds of further positive growth. Just be careful to avoid it becoming a competition vs. other children. Compare their progress only to how they were doing before. After all, each child is unique.
The other tenets of goal setting can apply equally well to kids too. Make the goal as clear and measurable as possible. How will they know when they’ve achieved it? Also, help to state the goal as moving towards something instead of away from something. Towards-motivated goals have far greater motive power for long-term achievement. You can even work with your kids to set target dates by which they want to achieve their stated outcomes, being careful not to set them up for disappointment if they don’t make it. Simply make it a fun challenge for them to “go for it.” And, last but certainly not least, make sure your kids write their goals on paper and hang them up where they will see them everyday.
Do all of these things, and your little exercise in goal setting for kids may prove the most positive inspiration of all for setting some bigger goals yourself!
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