We are more than halfway through the month of January (can you believe it??!) and how many of you are still going strong with your resolutions? I’ll admit that I’ve definitely dropped the ball on a few of mine, but luckily, goal setting is a year-round endeavor; we needn’t wait until next January or even a Monday to start. Perhaps you have a list of goals that you’ve been working this new year, but do your children have a list too?

It’s never too early to teach children how to set goals (from personal experience, the tween years is a great time to start). Goal setting is a lifelong skill that will serve your children well in all areas of life. Here are a few tips to help you teach your children to set goals.

1. Let Them Choose Their Own Goal

You may want your child to keep his room clean or get straight A’s but if you let them choose their own goal and therefore, be more likely to stay motivated long enough to achieve it. When people choose their goals, they will take ownership of it. So, let your child choose something they want to accomplish (and it doesn’t have to be school related). Once they choose a goal, help your child be specific about what they want to accomplish.

For example, if your child says she wants to be better at gymnastics, encourage them to be more specific on what part of gymnastics exactly they want to be better at (“better form during back flips”).

2. Teach Them To Write It Down

Whatever goal your child chooses (and after you help them refine it, if necessary), have them write it down and post it where they can see it every day. Writing down goals increases the odds of achieving them and serves as a reminder as to what we are working toward. Writing down goals can also help your student clarify what they want to accomplish and commit them to writing, making the goal seem more “official.”


3. Show Them How To Plan It Out

Before the days of GPS, we would have to print out directions from MapQuest to get to somewhere we wanted to go. And when I was a child, I remember every year, my parents would buy the updated edition of the Thomas Guide maps from Costco for our car. In all three cases, to get to where we were going, we need to plan out our route. The same goes for goal setting. Once your child has picked and clarified his/her goal and has written it down, show them how to make action steps that will lead them to achieve that goal.

If your child’s goal is to earn enough money to buy a PS4, then possible action steps could include:

  1. I will mow the neighbor’s lawn every week.
  2. I will save X dollars from my allowance each month.
  3. I will save the birthday money that Grandma sends me.

4. Help Them Set A Realistic Deadline

It is said that a goal without a deadline is just a dream and some people can spend their entire lives dreaming without actually accomplishing anything. The concept of time seems to be foreign for some preteens, and prioritizing that time is a challenge for many kids. They would be happy whittling the day away texting their friends and sitting in front of a video game. When a goal has a deadline, there is a sense of urgency and may help prevent procrastination.

5. Celebrate The Small Achievements

People are impatient; if they don’t see immediate results, it’s easy to get discouraged and quit. This is why it is important to teach your students goal setting early. Make sure to celebrate the small achievements your students make on their way to accomplishing their big goal. If their goal is to run a 5k, celebrate when they complete their first one-mile run or if they train three days in a row. Be your child’s biggest cheerleader in whatever they are striving to achieve, whether it is to make the honor roll or run a 5k and celebrate with them each step of the way.

Do you teach your kids to set goals? What are some of your tips? Comment below.

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