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Goal setting is an important life skill that is never too early to start developing. Learning to set goals teaches children to take responsibility for themselves. They learn that their actions determine whether or not they fail or succeed.
Goal setting also builds self-confidence. When children reach their goals, they learn to believe in their abilities and are more likely to set new goals for themselves in the future.
6 Tips for setting goals with children
1. Collaborate with the child to set goals. Try not to dictate to the child what goals he/she should set. The child is more likely to push towards their goals if they can take ownership of them and are vested in the outcome of their goals. As the child gets older, assess whether or not they are capable of setting goals on their own.
2. Start with small goals. Starting out with small, easy to achieve goals, ensures that the child experiences some success early on in the goal setting process. Once they have some success, they will gain confidence in their abilities and are more likely to set more challenging goals in the future.
3. Make sure goals are age appropriate. Young children between Kindergarten and third grade might set goals such as sharing with friends, reading a book independently, etc. Starting at around fourth grade, children might set more complex goals for themselves such as making honor roll or making a sports team.
4. Goals need to be realistic and attainable. Children need to set goals that they have the skills to achieve. For example, it would be unrealistic for a five year old to have a goal of reading a Harry Potter book independently because they have not developed the necessary skills to do so. This goal would most likely be unattainable for the child despite their best efforts.
5. Make goals specific. Having broad goals can overwhelm and confuse the child. When setting goals, try to be as specific as possible. Instead of saying ‘I will do better in school’, state specifically what you will do in order to do better in school. For example, ‘I will complete my homework daily.’
6. Decide how you will track progress. Children are more likely to work towards their goals when they see progress. They can track their progress by using a sticker chart, graph with tally marks, a spreadsheet, etc. Make sure the child can readily see the progress they are making towards achieving their goal.
Making vision boards with children
A vision board is a visual representation of the things you want to accomplish or acquire. People create vision boards to have a constant reminder of what they are working towards. A vision board is a great tool for teaching children about goal setting. Children can use vision boards to keep them motivated and focused as they work toward their goals.
A vision board activity
The following vision board activity will help the child in your life start their goal setting journey with ease and FUN! First, download my Goal Setting for Children worksheet. Work with the child to complete the worksheet. Once you have done this, you are ready to make a vision board.
What you will need:
-Poster board (any size)
-Magazine articles and pictures that represent your
goals and action plan
-Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
-Glue, glue stick or tape
-poster board letters (optional)
Gather all your materials and have the child glue the pictures on to the poster board. Let their creativity run wild. Once they are done, hang their vision board where they can see it often. For an added element of fun, feel free to make your own vision board with your child.
Remember to cheer your little one on as they make strides toward their goals. The journey to them achieving their goals is equally as important as them actually reaching their goals.
Don’t forget to click image below to download your free goal setting worksheet!
If you want to take goal setting one step further with adolescents, check out Goal Setting: Coaching Adolescents to Be Successful In Life. I provide a step by step guide to help kids set goals in six different areas of their lives. These areas include Academics, Behavior, Family, Social Life, Health, and Money. Below is a sample of the reflection worksheet for the area of Academics:
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