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How I Set Goals with My Child

As we approach the new year, this is the perfect time to be thinking about New Year’s resolutions and setting goals for 2019. Many of us have a little reflection on the past 12 months and decide what we are going to set out to achieve this coming year.

I personally set goals regularly, with my full-time career here as an International Account Manager, and with my three children, aged eight, five and three. At home, I often set myself a goal of simply surviving the day! That said, I’m rather ambitious and like to cram a lot into my life – so for me, setting goals is vital for achieving anything. If we want our dreams to become a reality then we must set clear, achievable goals and create a plan for achieving them.

My children have naturally picked up on my goal setting attitude, and over the winter break we will be sitting down together as a family to set our goals for 2019.

A goal has to be something you want to achieve; the more it is desired, the clearer the vision you’ll have towards achieving it, and the more precise the plan will be, as well as the more motivation you’ll have towards working to it. A goal is not something that someone else sets for you if you have zero percent interest in achieving it.

Firstly, as a family, we will sit down, reflect on what we liked about this last year and what we didn’t, then talk about what we want to achieve and break it up into smaller chunks. I’m going to focus on Blake, my eight-year-old and how we will speak about this year, as well as how we will set goals.

Long-Term Goals

I don’t expect an eight-year-old to know what he wants to do with the rest of his life. However, what I do expect is that he has several ideas and we help him work toward them from an early age. Some of Blake’s ambitions include:

  • To attend the local grammar school
  • Become an Olympic sprinter
  • Be a racing driver
  • Be a boss
  • Work as someone who makes, modifies, or fixes cars
  • To live with his best friend
  • To own several sports cars

I’m sure you’ll get the idea here. On reflection of 2018, what has Blake, and us as his parents, done to begin building the foundations for any of these goals? When he turned eight, he was able to join our local athletics club and so he did. Other than that, there have not been any significant changes made in order for him to achieve the above. But as Darren Hardy puts it in his book, ‘The Compound Effect’, it is the small, daily habits and decisions that gradually compound over time to take us toward the life we desire!

When goals are not necessarily achievable within a small time-frame and there are no significant actions that can be taken in order for you to achieve them, a great idea is to create a goal board – or vision board. A goal needs to be visual every single day to remind us to always be working towards it. It’s no use thinking about last year’s goal, realizing you forgot about it all year and set it again for this year. An idea I love is to print off pictures that we can put together in a collage to look at daily. For Blake, we might use a picture of the school he wants to attend, Usain Bolt winning gold, a Formula 1 car, the pits or garage, a house, and several sports cars.

Over time, we have educated Blake about the daily habits he needs in order to achieve his goals:

  • Try hard to learn at school in order to pass his 11+ exam to gain entry into the school he wants.
  • Choose to do things that are good for the brain: reading, writing, drawing, practicing spellings, and maths.
  • Choose healthy foods to fuel the body.
  • Take responsibility for his own learning and not wait to be told to learn.

Short-Term Goals

Working toward long-term goals can be daunting and it may be difficult to stay motivated when there is no immediate reward. Hence why us adults are so good at joining the gym, attending one class and then quitting because our trousers are still too tight! Therefore it’s equally important to set smaller, achievable, short-term goals, and this is where us as parents can really help toward rewarding small achievements.

Stickers, chocolates, toys, and money are all great for rewarding children; but they are also all materialistic. An idea I love is to write down a list of things my children love doing with me, pop them into a jar and let them pull one out each time they achieve a small goal. For example, a goal could be to learn 10 words on the spelling list, or to learn the names of a number of car parts. It may take a few days or a few weeks, but once this goal has been achieved, they get to pick a reward. Some things that Blake might put on his are a big hug, a high ten, watch a movie, play with the toy cars together, read Harry Potter together, play on EducationCity together, stay up late with us at the weekend, go for a run together, etc. None of this costs a penny, but for my child it is still a reward earned.

Goal setting and earning can be a fun experience for all the family and it’s a great way to teach children about managing their own choices! We’d love to hear about your new year goals too – tweet us @Edmentum_INT!

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