Goal Setting For Kids: Importance, Tips, And Activities

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Have you set a goal for kids this year? Goals are essential, not just for adults but for kids too. It helps one focus, stay determined, and work towards achieving them. Children need to learn how to set realistic and achievable goals. Working towards a specific goal will allow your children to practice discipline, routine, and responsibility. As parents, you can set some goals for your kids or help them prepare to accomplish them. The best part about setting a goal (especially short-term ones) is the feeling of satisfaction you get every time you step closer to the finish line. So, here are a few goals that you can help your child achieve this year.

Why Is Goal Setting Important For Kids?

A life without goals is a life without a destination. Your child is born with boundless energy and can achieve an awful lot if they learn how to set goals and achieve them in the right way.

Here are a few reasons why goal setting is crucial for kids.

  • Helps kids become responsible.
  • Helps them make good decisions.
  • Improves self-confidence and promotes independence.
  • Teaches perseverance.
  • Instills a ‘can-do’ attitude in them.
  • Helps build autonomy and sense of agency

How To Teach Goal Setting To Children?

While setting goals is highly beneficial, parents often struggle to teach their children how to do it. Here’s how you can go about it.

1. Review and reflect

Ask your child to write down their goals and the steps they should take to get there. At the end of the week, sit with them and review their progress. Let your child reflect on what worked and what did not. This will help them reflect on their actions and perform better.

2. Make course corrections

Children have wavering minds and may often change their minds as time passes. Their goals may need to be updated or modified accordingly. For instance, while going through football lessons, they may develop a liking for defense. This doesn’t take anything away from the bigger picture of being a football player; however, their plans and actions may now need a few tweaks to ensure they become a good defender.

3. Start as early as possible

Start as early as possible, and take every opportunity to teach them goal setting. For example, while having a family get-together, let them do the planning — from picking the groceries to preparing the guest list. At the end of the event, your kid may realize the importance of goal setting and even take a liking for it.

4. Help them plan their day, week, and month

Goals aren’t achieved overnight. It is essential to break them down into smaller and doable chunks. Teach your children to build a goal ladder that spans across the day, week, and month. Micro-planning their daily routine to incorporate a list of goals could help them know their progress.

5. Choose an area of improvement

Ask your child to identify an area of improvement in their goal-setting journey. For instance, if your child wishes to be a painter, ask them to assess an area they need to put more effort into. It could be perfecting the lines or learning how to merge colors.

6. Let them make independent decisions

Instead of enabling everything for your children, give them a chance to make independent decisions. By allowing them to do so, you teach them to be responsible for their actions and organically take various steps to achieve the desired result.

7. Teach children about perseverance

Perseverance is the tonic that can keep you going when things seem impossible. Kids at school can be taught to persevere at a sport they aren’t able to get right. Similarly, at home, you can teach them how to perfect making their bed each day, even if they can’t do it well at present. Understanding that effort, and not genetic talent, is what leads to success, is highly important for a child’s determination to persevere.

8. Encourage children to look to the future

Futuristic thinking will enable children to set realistic goals and ace them when the time comes. If they wish to be doctors, they should learn about human anatomy and score better grades in science. Thinking about the future will provide them with a vision and let them know what’s required to achieve their goals.

9. Be realistic about what your child can achieve

While encouraging your child to set goals, remember not to be too overbearing on them. Teach them to set modest goals. It is essential to be realistic about what and how much your child can achieve.

10. Define the steps necessary to accomplish the goals

Ask your kids to lay down the steps that are necessary to achieve their penultimate goal. Spend time in defining and planning each step. This will help them break down the big dream into tiny and achievable steps.

11. Applaud their effort

Kids can get easily overwhelmed if you ask them to plan the next five years or more of their lives in one go. This is why it is vital to break down big goals and applaud your child’s efforts to reach them. Appreciate small steps, including the failures.

12. Lead by example

It is no news that children emulate their parents and learn from them. It is therefore important for you to be open with your children about your own goals. Share your plans with them and make them a part of your journey. Seeing you achieve your dreams will automatically encourage them to reach out for their own.

Goal-Setting Activities For Children

To make teaching goal-setting fun, here’s a list of activities you can indulge your children in.

1. Create an illustrative journal

Illustrative journal ideas to set goals for kids

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Help your child create a “goal journal.” They could use pictures, charts, drawings, and colors to bring their goals and steps to achieve them to life.

2. Draw an interest map

Ask your kids to write down their interests using sticky notes. Put them up on a wall and ask them to join similar interests with threads.

3. Make a vision board

Vision board ideas to set goals for kids

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Create a vision board and ask your children to write down their dreams on it. Supplement it with positive affirmations and words of encouragement regularly.

4. Form a wheel of fortune

Create a wheel of fortune illustrating different types of goals. For each goal, ask your child to lay down steps and a realistic timeline.

5. Write a letter

Letter ideas to set goals for kids

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Ask your children to write a letter to their future selves, listing down goals and the steps they would take to achieve them. Review the letter at the end of the year and allow them to reflect on how far they have reached.

Having goals in life is essential to channel one’s energy and work towards a cause. So train your child to set goals from an early age, and encourage them to periodically review and reflect on their actions to perform better in the future. Setting realistic and achievable goals is necessary to attain success in every aspect of life. Thus, don’t overburden your child with unrealistic expectations; instead, support them in their journey with proper guidance and patience. Most importantly, always celebrate their successes and failures to help them learn from their mistakes and stay confident.

Key Pointers

  • Having a life goal can give children a sense of purpose, improving their confidence and self-esteem.
  • Parents should set realistic, achievable, and practical goals for their children.
  • Creating an illustrative journal, a vision board, and a wheel of fortune are some interesting goal-setting activities for children.

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Natalie Jay Campbell

Natalie Jay is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in San Diego County with a specialty in depression, anxiety, trauma, couple therapy, and addiction. She has a Bachelors degree in Psychological & Brain Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis and a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work from San Diego State University. Natalie has worked for county non-profit agencies as... more

Advaitaa Ravi

Advaitaa is a digital marketing and content writing specialist with around seven years of experience. She’s worked on a variety of genres including travel, fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and health and wellness. For MomJunction, she writes on kids’ activities, learning and development. Having completed her graduation in business management, Advaitaa went on to study fashion merchandising from the Fashion Institute of Technology,... more