Childhood is an ideal time to begin learning the power of goal-setting. Setting targets for what we hope to accomplish provides both purpose and direction in life.
A child’s goals can be big or small, difficult or easy to attain. Children can use goal setting for everything from finishing homework to becoming captain of the basketball team.
In all likelihood, your child has already begun to establish some realistic goals! It’s just one step at a time.
Here are 5 easy ways to continue helping your child with goal-setting while having fun too:
1. Have them draw their goals
If the idea of goal-setting seems overwhelming with young children, keep it simple.
Ask children, “What do you want to learn today?” or “What would you like to get better at?” to generate some ideas. Next, provide paper and pencils or crayons for them to depict these goals in detail.
Afterwards, you can create a list of the steps required to meet each goal. If she drew a picture of herself making the swim team, write down the process for how that could be achieved. If he illustrated acing his next science test, jot down the steps needed to get a high score.
Finally, display the artwork in a visible area at home–bedrooms or study areas are always good spots.
2. Teach them about money
Experts say that children as young as 3 years old can comprehend the financial concepts of saving and spending. From an early age, they can learn to wait and plan for what they want.
A simple way for older children to practice saving is by setting a short-term goal. Allow them to identify a desired (inexpensive) item and save towards buying it for themselves.
Incorporate the lesson of addition or subtraction for grade-schoolers. If a toy costs $10 but they only have $8, how much more do they need? Allowing children to earn and practice spending their own money is a great way to learn maths too.
Children can also create jars for “saving”, “spending”, and donating. Use a clear jar instead of a piggy bank to help them visualise the money growing. Talk about the process and make a big deal about their progress!
3. Encourage journaling
Teaching children to journal gives them both a creative outlet and a way to record hopes and dreams. Journals also allow children to reflect back on their progress towards goals over time.
With young children, keeping a journal can be as simple as drawing a picture of how they feel or something positive that happened that day. Next, discuss what made the day that way and what they can do more to achieve that positive feeling.
Also consider adding printables for kids that contain relatable quotes, or words of encouragement to the journal.
Older children benefit from the improved writing and communication skills that come with the practice of journaling. Journals also provide a way to organise goals and express disappointments, setbacks, and emotions that are otherwise difficult to share.
4. Make a vision board with your children
There are many engaging ways to encourage goal-setting, and a vision board is one. A vision board is simply a visual depiction of anything that inspires or motivates your child.
Before creating one, have your child reflect on what’s most important to her. What are her goals in different areas–friendships, home, school, extracurricular activities? Think of it as an overview of her life.
Next, choose a time to create the board when your child is relaxed and calm. Feel free to use any materials–paint, stickers, scissors, and glue. Magazines, photos, and drawings are all perfectly acceptable.
Let children realise that the vision board, just like them, is a work in progress and will change and grow. Be sure to place it somewhere the kids can easily see or update it if the need arises.
5. Create a goal ladder
Children can learn that goal-setting follows a logical process. A goal ladder provides the visual tool for helping them understand each step.
With your child, consider a simple goal he would like to accomplish. Next, draw an outline of a ladder (including several rungs) and discuss how we might break down this goal. Then list the steps required on each rung.
Let’s say his goal is to learn to ride his new scooter. Step one, the bottom rung, might be watching a video of someone else riding a scooter. Step two, the next rung, could be watching a sibling riding it. Step three, the following rung, can be him riding the scooter indoors on a carpet. The steps should continue until the goal is met.
Remember to make the goal ladder both realistic and age-appropriate. Children will feel empowered by setting and achieving the steps on their goal ladder!
We know that children learn best when they’re having fun. Goal-setting can be an enjoyable process, and the one they will use throughout life.