Setting Goals with Your Kids
The year 2020 was a learning experience for everyone. So much crazy, unusual stuff happened, and it wasn’t just the adults that had to make some adjustments. Your children, whether or not you noticed, were definitely impacted and had to learn how to navigate the pandemic world just like we did. In this new year, we’re encouraging our families to set some achievable goals on how to better ourselves in order to grow and stay healthy. We recommend making this a family activity and helping your kids develop their own goals – make it fun!.
Why Should Kids Set Goals??
The better question to ask is why shouldn’t kids set goals? After all, we like to call them: Dreams with deadlines. Encouraging your children to set their own goals is a great way to build confidence, teach discipline, as well as cause and effect. Even if the goal isn’t achieved in its entirety, it’s likely to foster creativity or teach them a new skill they can take with them as they grow. Who knows, they may even find their new favorite hobby along the way!
It’s important to divide the process by age range when you begin developing a goal with or for your child. Obviously, a teen is going to be more able to accomplish more complex tasks than a toddler, but that doesn’t mean your little one can’t participate and grow alongside your older children.
How to Choose a Good Goal
Picking a goal out of thin air may be a good solution for very young children, but there is a method to follow (even for adults) that works great for children. There are a couple of items to remember if you’re helping your child set goals.
Pick Something They Want To Do
As adults, sometimes we end up making our goals about something that we don’t want to do. This is an important pitfall to help your children avoid when setting a yearly goal for themselves. If your kid hates eating their vegetables, then perhaps the rhetoric shouldn’t be “I will eat more vegetables” but instead, “I will eat healthier foods so I can grow up big and strong.” The mindset with which a task is approached is often connected to the successful completion of that activity.
- I want to exercise more and learn to run faster!
- I will learn how to ride a bike so I can play with my friends in the park!
- I want to help around the house to show my parents I’m ready for a puppy!
- I want a healthy smile, so I’ll brush my teeth twice a day!
Piggybacking on the previous point, positivity goes a long way in determining the outcome of any situation. Our children pick up a lot on our body language, our tone, and how we approach things in everyday life. Having a positive attitude when it comes to goals is a step in the right direction when it comes to helping them select the right kinds of goals. Especially with younger children---if you are excited, they will be too.
Sometimes even adults can’t see the forest for the trees. That’s why it’s important to be specific when setting goals. Breaking down a bigger goal into smaller more manageable tasks is a helpful life skill that your children will take into adulthood.
Let’s revisit our vegetable example from above. While eating healthier is a wonderful and achievable goal, some children may find something with more structure easier to follow. Instead of “I will eat healthier foods this year” try “I will try 10 new, colorful vegetables this year.” By choosing this kind of goal, you make the task less nebulous. It also allows room for failure. If they eat a turnip but discover that turnip isn’t exactly their favorite food, they still accomplished something and that’s something to celebrate!
It’s About The Process Not the Outcome
We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” For kids, this is even more important. Children are growing and learning how to interact with their environment. It’s unrealistic to expect every second of every day to be a good one. Some days will be harder than others, and we don’t achieve our goals every single day. But at the end of it all, it’s about looking back and how far we’ve come, and you should remind your children of that when they’re reexamining their goals or losing sight of them.
Do It Together
The best way for just about anyone to stay accountable is to do a task with someone else. If your child’s goal is to learn how to ride a bike, then when there’s some downtime, offer to ride bikes with them. Not only does it provide some excellent family bonding time, but it also gets you and your child active together. Working towards a goal together is always more fun and more motivating.
Reward For A Job Well Done
As part of moving towards a goal, you might consider setting small rewards as they progress. As long as the reward doesn’t directly conflict with the goal itself, it’s a nice way to remind your children of their progress. In some cases, it can even provide a little bit of healthy competition, especially if you’re in a situation where siblings are reaching for similar goals.
Encourage Kindness and Mindfulness
Finally, remind your children to be kind to themselves and to practice mindfulness when things don’t go the way they plan. Ultimately, goals are about building skills you didn’t have before, and if you make any kind of progress, even if you fail, you are usually better off having learned what you were able to so that if you approach it again, you know what to avoid.
Self-criticism is a toxic habit that seems to be learned earlier and earlier these days. Where possible, look for opportunities to teach self-compassion. It’s easy to fall into this pit of self-loathing. Remind your children that sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and that’s okay.
At Pediatrics East, our goal is always the same: Treat more families. That’s because we love what we do. Your family’s health is our number one priority, and we love watching you and your children grow. Reach out today and discover why hundreds of families choose us as their pediatric providers.
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