Last week my 13 year old showed me a list he had drawn up of things he planned to achieve this term. I was impressed as I had not prompted it and it was a sign that he knew what he wanted…they were his goals not mine. What impressed me with his list of goals was that he had also written some of the ways he intended to achieve them and as a Mum I intend to encourage him and hold him accountable. Anyway it got me thinking about ways we can encourage our children to set goals without placing unnecessary pressure on them. While we are not to make their goals for them here are a few tips to guide them.
It’s important that you realize these goals are your children’s goals not yours. While you may want your child to be a football pro he may actually dislike football and be more interested in being part of the swimming team. As parents we sometimes have an image of what we want them to achieve and while some goals like getting good grades should always be encouraged it’s more effective if the child wants to achieve same. As parents our role should be to guide and advise them as they make goals and not to bully or impose certain goals upon them. I for instance tried my best to get my older boys to learn an instrument and they weren’t interested till a couple of years ago.
As parents we know our children interests and this can help us when assisting them come up with their goals. Encourage them to be original and focus on their strengths rather than attempt to be like a sibling or friend. This is where parental guidance is really needed to ensure your child’s goals are not being subsumed by peer pressure or feelings of inadequacy.
We often see the image of a Mother (whether a human or animal) gently nudging her young as they try to take their first few steps. In the same way as parents we should gently nudge our children to explore and challenge themselves especially as they get older. Remember there is no need to put them under unnecessary pressure but at certain stages a little push or a whole lot may reassure them and make them strive for higher heights. Our encouragement will help them achieve more.
The BIG picture
For a child or teenager looking ahead is hard! However, it’s a good idea to help them visualize the big picture. An example would be asking your child to imagine himself giving a speech to his friends of all he or she has achieved during the year. Another way to let your child see the big picture is through success stories, encourage your child to read books about people who have been able achieve a lot even in the midst of adversity, such as Ben Carsons “Gifted Hands”. This is why being a positive role models to your child is important, as children learn easily from visuals.
Write it down
This is so important! Get your children to write their goals, nothing too hot or heavy but let them put it down in their own words. I have included a free 2019 goals template here which can be used or improvised. After writing down their goals then ask them to put is somewhere prominent as a gentle reminder. You can also encourage them to use a Journal like my Growth Goals and Gratitude Journal.
It’s ok to offer your child a reward for meeting a goal and it’s also ok if at the end they don’t quite meet the goal. For example your child may have a goal to get all A’s at the end of the end of term and at the end may have fallen short of that goal, ensure they know that the journey is just as important as their destination. Even if at the end of the day the goal is not achieved give them encouragement at every step and commend them for even trying.
Because I’m happy!
Ultimately achieving a goal should make your child happy. Sit down and discuss with that those things that would make them happy and then connect it to a goal. For instance if getting to school early makes them happy then explain how sleeping early will ensure they are able to achieve this. Another example can be if your child enjoys praise (everyone loves praise but some more than others) explain to them how excelling in a particular subject or sport will earn them accolades. That way they can earn the praise through their achievements.
How have you helped your children set goals?