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Goal Setting for Kids - Seven Elements for Success

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Goal setting for kids is a term that has been gaining popularity, especially since Life Coaching for grownups has been on the rise. While the goal setting concepts are similar for adults and children, there are a few details that must be considered according to age, developmental stage and even personality.

An important point to mention is that every child is unique and will make progress at his own pace. Don't expect immediate or superb results. It takes time to adopt a new skill, especially for young people. When teaching any new skill to kids, be gentle, loving and patient. Remember that you are also teaching persistence, one of the main values we can pass on to our children.

These seven elements will prove helpful when planning and teaching goal setting for kids.

Lead by example. Nothing works better than setting the example and showing them how it is done. It's a good idea to have your child join you in a goal that you both can enjoy, as a way to teach him how to go about setting and achieving goals. For instance, make it a goal to bake brownies together. Have your child research the ingredients, and driving with you to the grocery store to choose and buy them. Back at home, you can split the tasks until the brownies are out of the oven for you both to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Communication is a key ingredient. Talk about the importance of learning goal setting for kids as a skill that will help them throughout life. Clarify that some goals are harder to get than others. Explain that challenges and dedication should be present in every goal that is worthwhile, and that they should see discouragement and frustration as obstacles to overcome versus reasons to quit. Make sure you both understand what the goal is and what the deadlines are. Also, it is very important to convey that you will assist them should they need it, but they must not expect for you to do their tasks.

Hold them accountable. If your child is old enough to write, have her write her goals in a notebook. Then teach her how to break those goals into smaller and more manageable tasks. For instance, if your fourth grader wants to get an 'A' in her next progress report, make that a goal. Then plan how she is to achieve that with homework assignments and weekly tasks that will lead her to the desired 'A'. Finally, make sure the goal has a deadline that is realistic and achievable. 

Make it a fun process. When goal setting for kids, have them choose their goals when at all possible. Goals that are imposed by parents are seldom accomplished. You can make suggestions for your child to plan a specific goal, but overall, the goal must resonate with what he wants to get.

Help your child succeed. As you plan the goals with your child, make sure they are relevant to his age, developmental stage and interests. Also, help him set parameters to make the goal achievable. At the same time, the goal should be neither too easy so he loses interest, nor too difficult to result in frustration and abandonment of the goal altogether. When your child achieves something that has been a bit of a challenge for him, his self confidence will raise and his self esteem will soar. From that point on, setting goals with your kids should be more exciting and enjoyable for the both of you.

Make the goal short term. As adults, we have a better understanding of long term goals; however, kids are more able to focus on the present and tend to be more impatient. Thus, the first attempts at goal setting for kids should be rather short term. As they get into the habit of achieving their goals and confidence is gained, you can push your kid a bit harder for bigger accomplishments over time. 

Feedback. We all need and strive for feedback as a sign to see if we are on the right track, and it is no different for kids. Always keep realistic outcomes in mind when planning goal setting for kids, and make sure you provide feedback as they go. Your feedback should be enthusiastic, but not overly done. Also, don't wait until the end to provide feedback. A good idea is to ask every now and then how their resolution is coming along. Praise them, encourage them and/or offer guidance accordingly.

Feedback should also be given for goals not achieved, but always in a positive light. Talk to your child about the reasons behind his failure and motivate him to talk about the things he believes could have been done differently to achieve better results. Reassure him that mistakes are lessons for us to learn that will eventually help us correct the path to inevitable success. Overall, remember to applaud their efforts, not just their accomplishments.

As a parent, keep the big picture in mind at all times. Remember that goal setting for kids is one of the most important skills that your child can learn; one that will help him get ready for school, and be better prepared for adulthood and the work force. Teaching them this skill will only make their life experience better as they grow, and become successful and equipped for the world at large.