Healthy habits start young. Teaching your children the importance of setting goals is something that needs to be done early.
You know the saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, the same idea applies to teaching your children about goal setting. Okay, you can teach an older child about this, but it’s not going to be easy and will most likely be met with phrases like “I don’t waaaannnnt to.” or “why should I?” as they proceed to ignore you and continue playing the video games you told them to turn off a half hour ago. We digress.
Younger children, specifically those between the ages of 4 and 9, thrive and WANT to have goals. It gives them a sense of purpose. Of course they aren’t going to tell you that specifically. So as a parent, why would you need to encourage this?
5 Reasons Kids Need Goals:
- Focus: Kids aren’t exactly the best at following through on tasks, especially those that are vague. Having a specific, tangible goal helps children focus on the task at hand. It could be as simple as “read one new book a month” for those having reading difficulties.
- Involvement & Exploration: As busy parents, we tend to forget (a lot!) that our kids want to be involved. Having your child decide what they want their goals to be helps them discover new interests and gets them involved in the process.
- Accomplishment: Goals teach children the idea of cause and effect, or we could really say “effort” and “accomplishment”. Goals, and the journey to completing them, allows children to understand.
- Confidence: Simply put, achieving goals breeds confidence. Every goal accomplished is another confidence-booster and every challenge along the way is a learning opportunity to help them figure out how to improve for their next goal.
- Motivation: Most goals have a reward, tangible or not. Whether it’s as simple as a sticker or more thought out like a movie date with mom or dad, rewards teach kids about motivation and avoid the parent trap of nagging (note: to avoid this trap, make sure your child selects the award – within reason. We don’t all have ponies and rainbows lying around).
In the end, goal setting makes your life a whole lot easier and teaches your kids a valuable life habit, which is why it’s a key monthly theme in our program (the valuable life habit part).
TKD Tip: When setting goals, make sure you’re referring to them as “goals” and not “chores”. A goal is something a child should “want” to work towards that they determine. Chores, from a child’s perspective, are something they “have” to do and are not decided by them. A chore may become a child’s goal, if it’s something they have decided to do
Parent/Child Activity: Sit down with your kid(s) and brainstorm and write down one goal they can accomplish this month.