Setting Goals

Goal Setting Strategies

Dr. Michele Borba, Educational Psychologist, offers parenting strategies that teach kids to set goals and to help them succeed. She identifies seven steps:

  1. Define what a goal is. An easy way is to link it to an area of interest. For example, a football player is aiming for a touchdown. It is something to shoot for. Explain goal setting as planning what you need to work on.
  2. Share your own goals. Let your children know that you have dreams, and that you recognize that you may need to work on some things in order to achieve them.
  3. Help kids create their “dream list”. Help them create a list that includes those things that they actually have the power to make happen. Then spend time together discussing those dreams. Consider what skills are necessary. Does your child need help in order to succeed?
  4. Tailor the goal to your child. Have a first time goal-setter work on a goal that can be achieved within a week. Some examples are making their bed every day, reading a book, brushing teeth without being reminded, getting a strike in bowling.
  5. Help your child think through steps to success. Some children need to write down steps. The more they think about their goal, and identify what they need to do to achieve it, the greater the chance they will succeed.
  6. Track your child’s progress. 
  7. Celebrate! As goals are achieved, celebrate as a family.

As children work on their plans, it is inevitable for them to experience challenges and perhaps disappointment. Remember that failure is an important and valuable part of learning. In an article in Time, author Rachel Simmons wrote: “Of course kids should be taught to work hard and be resilient.” Simmons concludes, “But fantasizing that they can control everything is not really resilience. We would be wise to remind our kids that life has a way of catching us off guard when we least expect it. It’s often the people who learn to say ‘stuff happens’ who get up the fastest.”