It’s a new year, which is the perfect time to talk about realistic goal-setting with your children. There’s also a global pandemic going on, so realistic is key. 2020 brought a lot of change, our children were thrown into a world of uncertainty which required a certain amount of resilience. It allowed many of us to value the importance of family connections and maintaining our mental health, something I hope to bring into the new year with me. In this blog post, I will share some of the goal-setting tips I use with my children.
Set SMART goals
SMART goals provide a framework for realistic goal setting, a life skill that teaches accountability. SMART goals are:
It might seem like an obvious suggestion but a lot of us struggle to stick to our New Year’s resolutions each year. Rather than making a resolution like “exercise more/be healthier” a SMART goal helps you to reflect on your current lifestyle, commitments etc and decide what is reasonable. For example, this year I have set a SMART goal to do sun salutations at least 5 mornings a week before breakfast. Before I would have simply said “do more yoga”.
Who are the goals for?
This is important. When helping your children set goals for the new year, think about who the goals are actually for. A quick Google search for “New Year’s Resolutions for Kids” will throw up goals related to academic achievement, chores around the house or ‘health’. These suggestions often always benefit the adults in a child’s life rather than benefit the child and the motivation becomes extrinsic (mum/dad will be happy with me) rather than intrinsic (I want to do this because it is exciting/new/enjoyable).
In our household, chores are a part of being in a family and would therefore never make it onto a list of resolutions. Being healthy in regards to what we eat, screen-time, being outdoors etc. is also an important part of our family’s lifestyle and if I felt they needed a change I wouldn’t put the responsibility of that onto my children. I am not opposed to academic goals as long as it isn’t a case of “I will get all A’s in my exams”, perhaps “I will make sure I ask for help when I don’t understand” is a better goal to aim for.
A couple of ideas…
Here are a few suggestions of the types of goals you could help your child set, with a few examples. This year W has set a goal to learn how to use the hover board he got for Christmas, whereas B has set a goal to look after his glasses better since he broke them!
for younger children
- an act of kindness goal
- a personal achievement goal
for older children…
- a well being goal: keep a positivity journal throughout the year
- an academic goal: don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it
- a ‘learn something new’ goal: a language, a skill, coping strategies etc.
- a charitable goal: find a local charity to support/fundraise for
- a bucket list goal: is there something you’ve always wanted to do? make it a goal