Here are three ways you can help your children set long-term goals:
1. Breakdown the long-term into short-term. At Farrell’s Martial Arts, each of our students is on a black belt journey. That’s a four to five-year dedication from white belt to black belt. Children have a hard time thinking about the long-term because they inherently just aren’t that old. If you ask a five-year old what they want to do in five years, they have no way of answering this because their brain can’t function at that level. They are only five! That’s like asking a 30-year-old what they want to do in 30 years. So we need to break this long-term goal into shorter, more achievable tasks.
2. Set smaller goals to reach the long-term goal. At Farrell’s Martial Arts, we use a belt system. Every three months, our students can earn their next belt. For our youngest students, the Little Dragons, they promote even more frequently (every eight weeks) as that is matched with their educational needs. Each promotion is a step closer to their long-term goal of becoming a black belt, but they are more focused on the next belt, not the black belt.
3. Reward along the way. At Farrell’s Martial Arts, we use stripes. Students earn red stripes for attitude. These can be earned for positive attitude in the gym, at home or in school, including notes from a parent or homework from school. We also use other colored stripes to show mastery of skills. When a student earns their final black stripe, then they are ready to promote to the next belt. It’s a quick way to gauge how a student is doing towards their short-term and long-term goal.
Think about your children’s desires. Do they have a big goal? How can you help them break it down to manageable short-term goals that can be rewarded?
TKD Tip: When considering your child’s goals, think about their age and abilities. You want to give them goals that are hard for them to reach, but not impossible. Then think of ways to keep them motivated.
Parent/Child Activity: Start with one small improvement you would like to see your child make. For example, it could be making their bed each day. Talk with your child about this goal and decide on a prize your child can earn if he or she can do this task for six of the seven days out of the week for eight weeks. You may want to be more diligent and guide your child for the first few weeks, but they should be achieving the goal without reminders after the first few weeks. Reward your child every day with a sticker for completing the task. When your child reaches their goal, celebrate!