Goal Setting For Kids: A Step by Step Guide

Why should kids set goals?

Goal setting for kids is a process of allowing them to discover what means something special to them. Through this process you will allow your child to build his/her self confidence and self-esteem. Use this exercise as an opportunity to connect with your child to see what is important to them. As they speak about what they would like to achieve, use this process to help guide them and rally them with words of encouragement and love.

Goals for kids:
One thing that has been a benefit to our family is having weekly family meetings. We will bring our kids in one at a time and have them pick ideas of what they would want to work on for the week.

Typically they will choose a skill they want to improve on through practice, but we also have them pick a “social” goal. Instead of saying “don’t fight” we change it to a positive focus like “share with siblings.” Or if our younger children are struggling with screaming we may say work on “using a kind voice.” Then during the week we will reference the goal they made for themselves and say, remember your goals was to use a kind voice.

In our experience they are much more likely to stick with the goal if they are invested in making it themselves. Help them pick their “BIG GOAL” by defining things that they are already good at. Use that positive momentum to help them figure out what they would want to improve and the PURPOSE behind that idea.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” —Andrew Carnegie

Examples of Goals to get your ideas flowing

  • Get along with peers
  • Use a kind voice when speaking
  • Serve your family through simple acts
  • Develop physical skills through classes, at home practice, or school
  • Set a personal daily checklist for managing your daily schedule.
  • Increase health by drinking more water.
  • Connect with yourself more emotionally through journal writing.
  • Serve elderly folks in your neighborhood by bringing in their trash can from the street, reading to them, raking leaves, or snow removal.
  • Become more proficient in a skill: typing, writing, reading, coding, editing photos, taking photos, video, cooking, fixing things.
  • Become more comfortable in front of a crowd. Singing, speaking, or performing.
  • Create deeper connections with family members.
  • Be the first to say I’m sorry.
  • Physically train for a goal: diving on the diving board, running, swimming, basketball, baseball, cross fit, yoga, bike riding, volleyball, ect.
  • Look for others who are sad and find ways to help them.
  • Create a memory book to keep track of your family history and special events.
  • Listen or read audio books that help you build confidence or help with work ethic, communication, relationships, business.
  • Make your bed every day.
  • Develop a closer relationship with God. Read scriptures, pray.
  • Learn proper manners at the dinner table.
  • Work on the art of negotiation.
  • Look for ways to serve your parents.
  • Wake up and get ready for school without help.
  • Turn spare change into something worthwhile.
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter, homeless shelter, or old folks home.
  • Be more aware of screen time by setting limits and sticking to them.
  • Learn to create before consuming something else others have created: film, photo, art, music, or skit.
  • Learn how to respond in an emergency situation.
  • Write questions down and seek the answers through research.
  •  Meditation/Coping skills for for stressful situations.
  • Develop strong, good self-concepts, which will hold well into elementary school years. 
  • Be positive with change. 
  • Develop awareness of other’s needs and feelings.
  • Work on decision making through pro and con lists.
  • Explore creativity through art, exploration, and music.
  • Learn a new skill in the kitchen.
  • Have a sense of satisfaction with their individualism and feelings of self-respect. 
  • Develop intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically. Be well-rounded. 
  • Make a plan to save money for something you would love. 
  • Learn how to fix something in your home. 
  • Encourage creativity, problem solving and decision-making skills 
  • Learn how about money/finances.

Create Simple, Achievable Steps when Setting your Goals

Setting goals doesn’t always come easily, help your child understand that this can be done one day at a time. Start small and work up from there. You might even want to start with something as simple as helping them take ownership of brushing their own teeth without being reminded!

Positive reinforcement is always a good idea. This will look differently for every family, choose something that works well for you. It may be a trial and error approach and that is okay!

Help kids set goals with a Five Step Plan

Jim Wiltens, author of Goal Express, outlines steps to set — and meet — any target.

  1. Write it down. I want to read more books
  2. Make it specific. “I want to read one chapter book each month.”
  3. Consider Pros and Cons.Pros: I will become a faster reader. I will enjoy reading more and do well in school. Cons: I have homework that needs to get done. Reading more will cut into my free time.
  4. Define small steps by asking the Three W’s. “Who can help?” A coach, parent, or friend, for example. “What do I need to do?” Prioritize time, finish jobs/homework beforehand. “When?” 30 every day.
  5. Monitor Progress. Have a trackable chart. Track your progress through a reading app or test to track proficiency.

This same process could be used for public speaking, becoming a better athlete, a more loyal friend, a more patient person.

With any goal you want to think about what the goal will be, what the purpose of the goal will serve, and anticipate obstacles you might face.

Allowing your child to think of the obstacles that will come will help them to think of something that can do when that temptation hits. For example, if your child has set a goal to wake up early to practice an instrument you may talk about what can be hard about waking up early. Then discuss solutions to that challenge like setting the alarm clock across the room so they have to get up to turn it off, setting out their clothes the night before, or going to bed earlier.

Be realistic and focus on the aspect of learning and getting up. It should be a goal that helps you feel empowered and capable. Small wins will lead to larger victories as your child builds up confidence in her/hisself.

Camille and Kids

When Kids Fall Short

Your child is feeling discouraged and is feeling like the goal will never be achieved.

What can you do?

  • Review the goal with your child. Maybe it was too vague or too ambitious. Even the act of following up with them will help them keep on track. Make this non-confrontational so that they are feeling supported not overwhelmed.
  • Ask your child for suggestions. If you involve your child in the process of looking for the goal and the solutions of coming in short they are much more likely to follow up and be engaged in the solutions.
  • Help envision the benefits. Ask: “What do you think it will feel like to become a better/faster reader?” “What do you think it will feel like to beat your record racing time?
  • Share your childhood frustrations. Allow your child to know they are not alone by sharing your own stories of coming in short. Maybe you lost a school election, a race, or had a difficulty with math. Be open and create that opportunity for them to see things from failures you’ve had too.
  • Encourage your child through the journey. If your child hasn’t quite reached the mark but is trying make sure you are watching for the effort. Name what you see with words of love and praise! Throwing out a “Good Job” may not feel as sincere. Try listing specific behavior like, “I am really impressed by how you’ve been making time each day to reach your goal. Making time to read has really paid off with your ability to read more quickly!”
  • Don’t use threats or bribes. Encourage your child through the process of achieving the goal. A reward for a job well done will come through natural consequences.

goal setting, goals, kids setting goals, goal, New Years resolutions

I hope this helped you with ideas of how to help your child set and keep their goals. Setting a time that you follow up with each other is key! Make it a part of your routine with TIME FOR US my monthly membership I designed to help you create a stronger connection with your child!

You can also access these two engineer print downloads from my shop! They are each only $5.

If you are a looking for a more specific break down of goals with physical, intellectual, spiritual, and social goals you can grab this printable I made for the new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints goal setting.

Each of these printables come with three size choices 8×10, 18×24, and 24×36.

What has been helpful for you when setting goals? I would love to hear your ideas!

Camille Walker
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