[Parent Tips] Goal Setting with Your Child

Friday, January 8, 2016 -- Sarah Cornelius

Whether or not you are a fan of New Year’s resolutions, the start of the year is always a good time to reflect and think about some goals for the future. It’s also a perfect opportunity to teach your child about the importance of goal setting and how to go about the process effectively. We’ve put together these four tips to help!

1. Give your child ownership

As a parent, you want the best for your child, and you probably have a whole list of great aspirations and dreams that you hope they pursue. However, those are your goals, not your child’s. Letting your child name and set his or her own goals is key to the process, such that the goals feel meaningful to your child—which in turn will lead to more successful achievement.  

Instead of establishing your child’s goals yourself, encourage your child to brainstorm ideas and talk to him or her about what is realistic and what is not. You can also help him or her work through the roadblocks that one may encounter in determining steps to meet a goal and help your child find any resources that might be needed (i.e., helping him or her find relevant books at the library or researching coaches or instructors together if he or she is looking to learn a specific skill).

2. Make it manageable

Sometimes, children can be overly enthusiastic (and ambitious) when setting goals. One of the primary ways that you can help your child with the goal-setting process is to provide guidance to make sure that your child’s goals are manageable. Talk about the difference between long- and short-term goals and encourage your child to break down larger goals into smaller, achievable tasks. Additionally, urge him or her to avoid pursuing too many goals at one time—two to three are usually optimal. One effective strategy to consider is setting “SMART” goals, which are defined as:

    • Specific
    • Measureable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Timely

3. Share your own goals

Your own life goals and goal-setting process can serve as a great role model for your child! Talk to your child about what your own goals are, what you are doing to work toward them, and why they are meaningful to you. You can also talk about your past goals and where you have experienced both successes and failures. This can help your child gain perspective on the importance of clear goals, as well as the effort and persistence required to meet them.

Sharing your goals with your child can also open the door for you to track progress together. Consider posting a chart or other kind of visual aid showing everyone’s goals and indicators of the progress toward meeting them. It’s also helpful to schedule time to check in as a group about progress, challenges, and strategies to continue moving forward. This kind of transparency, collaboration, and accountability will be as helpful for you as it will for your child. Check out our Pinterest board for some great progress-tracking ideas!

4. Applaud effort, success, and failure

Of course, whenever we set a goal, we want it to be achieved. However, the reality is that we all fail to meet goals or may meet them in a different manner and timeline than we originally intended. Gaining the ability to deal with and overcome setbacks like this is just as important, if not more, as learning to set goals. So, celebrate more than just your child’s successes as he or she works toward the goals! Be sure to acknowledge and praise his or her efforts and help your child take away meaningful lessons and information from his or her failures. After all, goal setting is as much about the journey as the destination.

Looking for more tips on effective goal setting with your child? Check out this article from Parents Magazine! Interested in learning more about how Edmentum’s online solutions can keep you involved and up to date with your child’s academic goals? Check out our guide to Parent Engagement!

Follow Edmentum's board Tracking Student Progress on Pinterest.