Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Setting Goals with Children

With the new year just around the corner, many people's minds will turn to New Years resolutions. Despite the number of individuals who make New Year's resolutions each year, few achieve their goals. According to a study by the University of Scranton, only 8% of New Year's goals will be reached. 

Now, this isn't a post about how we can better keep our New Year's resolutions (although these tips could certainly help). Rather, this is a post about why it is important to teach our children how to set realistic and attainable goals. 

A few months ago, my three-year-old and I were in the store and she saw a small toy that she wanted. The toy cost only $1,50 and I could have easily bought the toy for her. Instead, I told her that she could save up her own money until she could buy it. When we got home, I helped her set a goal of how much she would save each week until she could afford the toy. When the day came to bu the toy, my daughter was so excited to pull our her own change from her little purse to give to the cashier. She held onto that little toy like one of her most prized possessions. I am convinced that if I had just bought the toy on that first day, it would have quickly been discarded in a corner of the playroom.

Helping our children to set meaningful and realistic goals in their day-to-day lives will help them have ownership over their own actions. By starting young, we will instill in our children the value of working hard to a worthy endeavor. They will learn that goal setting is not something that you do just once a year around New Year's.

Below are a few tips for teaching children how to set goals.

  • Start as early as possible
  • Give children the opportunity to lead
    • Allow them to make their own goals
  • Use the acronym SMART--goals should be:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Time-bound
  • Teach your children the importance of persistence when trying to attain a goal
    • Just because you fall short doesn't mean to just give up on the goal
  • Be realistic about what your child can achieve
    • One of the most potentially discouraging aspects of goal-setting is setting your goals too high. Help your child understand that goals can be difficult, but that they should be attainable

 What other tips do you have for setting and achieving goals?

Image  by Stuart Miles via

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