While we are all hopefully making progress on our New Year’s resolutions, it is important that we remember goals are not just for adults. Whether it be at the start of a new year or halfway through, it’s a great idea to start goal setting with your kids.
When it comes to setting goals, kids are naturals. They are better at coming up with goals and dreams than their parents or other adults. From things like wanting to score a goal before the end of the season to knowing what they want to be when they grow up, your kid already has a ton of goals in mind.
As a youth life coach, I always try to draw those goals to the forefront. Not just because accomplishing goals feels good, but because there are actual benefits to just setting and pursuing goals. Here are some of the benefits I’ve seen in the kids I work with.
Goal setting helps focus
Focusing can be tough for a lot of kids, but being able to focus is one of the strongest championship habits that your child can develop. By setting goals, kids have that task or dream to focus on and channel their energy into.
Rather than being an abstract idea or just another lesson, a goal can be visualized and attained, thanks to focus.
Goal setting gives purpose
When your child tries to focus on something or accomplish something in school or in sports, it might seem like it’s all for nothing. It’s difficult for them to feel like they are actually accomplishing something, and it then becomes even more difficult to stay motivated.
By setting goals, your child now has something to work towards. Instead of being told that they might apply math to “the real world” one day, they know exactly what they are working for and how they are going to get there. By setting goals, you are giving them purpose that will motivate them to the end.
And having a sense of purpose comes with a lot of benefits. Best among them are the boosts to confidence and self-esteem when your child knows that they are working towards something and—most importantly—they are getting closer and closer.
Goal setting has life-long benefits
When your child grows up with the mindset of looking to the future, planning, and taking action on their plans, it helps foster an innovative mindset and sets them up for a lifetime of success. Forward thinking and making action plans are not things that are taught in schools or on sports teams. They come from a purposeful habit of goal setting.
Kids who set goals have been shown to accomplish more than those who don’t, too. And this doesn’t just mean they accomplish their goals more. Those kids who have a forward-thinking mindset are more successful in almost all aspects of their adult lives. They can see what needs to be done, they can see how they can get there, and they’re not afraid to act on it.
Being able to set goals also causes kids to aim higher. When they start accomplishing goals and their confidence builds, kids know that they can do more. Their next goal will be a little bigger, and the one after that even bigger.
That’s not to say that your child will not come up against a goal that they stumble on. But goal setters are more confident in revisiting their goals, revising them, and coming up with a new action plan.
Keep in mind
When it comes to goal setting, it is easy for a parent or coach to get caught up in reaching that goal with their kid at whatever cost. But that’s an easy way to make a child hate goal setting and do some serious damage to how they view goals and action plans in the future.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when setting goals with your child.
- Put emphasis on the journey, not the end result. Being such big dreamers, your child will come up against a goal they can’t accomplish. But that’s not the point. What you should focus on is the progress that they made along the way. Growing up is about growing, remember.
- Set big AND small goals. Trying to achieve smaller goals on a regular basis is more impactful on your child than achieving big goals. By promoting smaller goals, you are promoting frequent journeys and more action plans. Progress is seen more regularly, even if the smaller goals are not reached. And while big goals are important to have, progress will be difficult to track.
- Review regularly. Progress is even harder to track if you don’t actively reflect on it. Be sure to take some time to review goals that you have accomplished together, or where you are with ongoing goals. Creating a visual aide is a great way to help kids visualize their progress.
It’s easy to dismiss goal setting as something for adults or even kids in their late teens. But goal setting is one of the fundamental habits that you want to instill in your child. It mind seem contradictory to our normal mindset that goal setting is more important than accomplishing the goal itself, but make the effort to get your child goal setting and allow them to gain the benefit of that habit for the rest of their lives.