Children who set goals from a young age learn to be self-driven and determined in life. If you could do something as simple as helping your child set and achieve goals and give them the skill set they need to grow into a well-rounded adult, wouldn’t you do it? Children are sponges and by teaching these life skills at a young age, it is more likely they’ll carry the good habits over into their future.
Here, we’ll talk about some of the advantages of teaching your son or daughter self-determination with goal setting. I’ll also give you some ideas about goal setting activities for kids, so you can set your son or daughter up for success. You’d be surprised how early they are ready to start learning!
Why Teaching Kids to Set Goals is Important
Have you ever seen the way that your child’s face lights up when they earned a reward for going potty or when they finally saved up for the toy that they wanted? This positive emotion is the reason that it is important to teach children to set goals from a young age. Their minds start to feel good when they strive for goals. This makes it more likely that they will set goals and succeed in the future.
Setting goals also helps kids learn self-determination. They learn that reaching goals gives them a feeling of satisfaction inside. They also learn that setting the goal helps them get the things that they want out of life (even if it is “just” a toy). Additionally, reaching the goals gives them a sense of pride and confidence in themselves. If they do fail occasionally, they will learn to keep working harder instead of giving up. Finally, it will earn them tons of self-esteem!
These skills become habits that will be carried over into adulthood. This lets them strive for bigger, greater things because they are confident that they are capable of doing what they put their mind to. This is something that we should all want for our children, regardless of their age.
7 Simple Steps to Raising Self-Determined Kids
So let’s see if can come up with ACTIONABLE plan to incorporate in our daily lives as Moms and Dads to help our kids become self-determined, self-dependent individuals. Follow these 7 simple steps and help your kid to build a good habit of setting his or her own goals – and reaching them! Let’s get started…
Step 1: Start Small
It is very possible that your child has already tried to reach a goal. One of Benni’s first goals was potty training—we had him fill up a sticker chart and once he got to the end, he earned a new toy. Looking at him when he filled up the chart the first time, it was hard to tell whether finishing what he had started or the toy itself that made him smile more.
As you can see, even something as simple as potty training can reinforce the idea of goal setting and success. Other ideas are giving your child money for helping out with chores around the house and having them save their money for something, rather than spending it all on drinks or candy throughout the week or helping them reach a learning goal and providing a reward.
Step 2: Let Your Child Set Their Own Goals
As parents, we want our children to strive for the best. If you start setting goals for your son or daughter, however, there is a risk of putting too much pressure on them. The key to teaching your child goal setting is making the experience as pleasant as possible. Avoid telling them what goals to set. You can make suggestions, but be sure that they are comfortable with the goal before expecting them to strive for it.
Step 3: Set Goals in Different Areas
Setting goals related to earning money is great because it is easy to measure. However, you should encourage your child to reach for success in other life areas as well: Health goals, academic goals, or even relationship goals can all be important skills in life. By varying the types of goals, you are reinforcing the idea that your child can succeed in any area.
Step 4: Set Them Up with a Specific Plan
Once your child knows what they want, help them develop a plan. Be sure that the goal is specific. In the case of large goals, help your child break up the goal into smaller milestones. You should also encourage them to set deadlines (depending on the goal) or decide how they will reward themselves (if the goal is not a reward in itself). By guiding your child in goal-setting, you teach them the proper way to set themselves up for success.
Step 5: Be Realistic
As parents, we want to tell our kids to reach for the stars. We would love nothing more for them to achieve everything they set their mind to. The truth is, however, not all goals are attainable right away. Your child may be able to learn to play the guitar—but if they have never had a lesson, it is going to take some time.
The reality check that you should provide as a parent comes in the form of talking about the obstacles and challenges that your child has to overcome to reach their goal. Then, help them plan ways to overcome the obstacle.
Step 6: Respond to Their Success and Failures
After the planning process, your child is going to start working toward their goal. When you notice them making a conscious effort toward success, compliment them on their work ethic. Tell them you are proud of them once they achieve their goal.
Even though all parents would love their children to succeed at everything, this is not always the reality. Instead of being disappointed after a setback, teach your child to revisit the goal. Decide if it is attainable or if there need to be extra steps. You should also credit your child for work they have done.
If your child seems to be having an especially hard time, share instances of your failure. If you talk about things that happened when you were a child, it really helps them connect and open up to you better.
Step 7: Let Kids be Kids
Finally: Let kids be kids. I know that sometimes this is the hardest part. As parents, we have high expectations. We want our kids to succeed in life. We want to set them up for success in the best possible way. We want to prepare them We want them to follow our rules.
But at the end of the day, being allowed to be a kid is what matters most! Allow your kids to figure things out by themselves. Encourage them to try things out, even if they happen to fail! And allow them to be proud of their successes.
If that doesn’t make sense, check out this video and you’ll know what I mean 🙂
The best parents are those that set their child up for success. By teaching your children to set and strive for goals, you are teaching them a self-determination that cannot be learned anywhere else. They will learn to strive for greatness, as well as how to get there. Teaching them to handle failures is also important. Hopefully, the strategies above will help you teach your little one how to grow into the best version of themselves.
Now it’s your turn. I would like to have a discussion with you Moms and Dads out there! What are your favorite strategies when it comes down to raising your kids as self-determined individuals? How do you teach them setting their own goals? Did I miss anything in my article above? If you have any thoughts to share or anything to add to the story, please let me know in the comments below! I’m looking forward to it!
Here’s to raising self-determined, successful children!
Thanks for reading!
P.S.: Did you EVER happen to yell at your child or call a timeout? Did you regret it afterwards? I certainly have, and I never felt good about it! If you want to learn how to put an end to this behavior, decode your kids and understand them so much better and become a calm parent, then make sure to read my FULL REVIEW of “Positive Parenting Solutions” HERE. This program changed our family’s life and we saw first results within just 3(!) days. And it will certainly work for you as well!
This is great information and I am happy you wrote about it. Great example on the potty training as a goal, you can certainly raise the child’s self esteem by allowing them to set their own goals like you mentioned. When they succeed it just builds the confidence so much.
The part you mentioned about letting kids be kids is spot on. The mental strength and confidence will surely help as they mature into adults.
This is a great post and I hope you continue with this type of information. I enjoyed it and I am sure many parents will as well.
Hi Chris, this is great stuff. I agree that It’s never too early to set goals, and kids might as well get used to it because soon enough it will be (hopefully) part of their lives. As a parent of a 15 and 17-year old, my favorite part of this is being realistic. We expect our kids to know more than they do, but they’re like puppies…we need to show them the way. and guide them in a positive way. 🙂
This was such fun reading for me, I have a 9 year old and 11 year old both boys and I am always invested in my kids emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually As parents we always wish that kids came with a hand book so congratulations you have just perfected that book. I loved the BE REALISTIC coz as parents we want the best for our kids but sometimes we just push too hard. Also LET KIDS BE KIDS so true. I look forward to reading more from you.
Hello there thank you for writing your review about goal setting activities for kids. I highly agree with you that setting goals for your children is very important this teaches them some important aspects in life for one patience and secondly how to overcome obstacles.
Another thing when writing goals is to learn to overcome obstacles and learn how to accept failure and move on from there not to dwell on your failures but to learn from them. Another aspect is to learn to control your emotions when you are faced with failure that is not to be too upset when things go wrong but to learn from them and do better.
Thank you once again for your excellent article on teaching children to write and achieve their goals as this will go a long way in their life in general.
Here is a few points going through my head when I was reading you article.
My kids need to learn consequences, not just consequences of doing something good bad but just as important are the positive consequences of doing something good.
They seem to learn (from lots of people around them) that it is ok not to compete in sports, or not to try too hard at school (in case they succeed and become subject to bullies) and similar lessons in mediocrity.
I am keen to see you expand on the subject of teaching kids resilience by accepting their failures and celebrating their successes.
thanks Chris. Keep up the good work mate.
Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment. I really enjoyed reading it and I love the idea writing a follow up post about how we can encourage our kids to identify and accept their weaknesses and teaching them how to successfully “fail forward”! I’ll certainly look into this!
Great, great comment! Thank you so much!
All the best to you and your family,
Great post. I agree with you on how important it is to teach our kids about setting goals, I remember the various reward charts we used with my first 2 kids to get them through different stages of childhood, which were always a motivator.
Teaching them to set goals in regards to money or spending is also great so they don’t end up leaving home believing that they can just have anything they want when they want, rather that to get what they want they need to make plans, set targets and maybe even make sacrifices to get there.
I love your bit about letting kids be kids, i am a big fan of that attitude myself, but unfortunately see so many parents nowadays focused on setting their children in the right direction, maximising their young sporting potential or whatever else that they forget that they are only kids who deserve to have a childhood as well.
Thank you so much for reading my article and taking the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate it! I’m glad to hear that you liked it. The goal-setting in terms of money and spending is a great addition. I really like that. I’ll think about whether I’ll incorporate that idea into this blog post or write a separate one!? I’ll have to see. Never the less: Thank you so much 🙂
I enjoyed your post about raising self-determined kids and agree wholeheartedly with your tips.
The biggest one, I suppose, is the one about letting them set the goals THEY want to achieve. It’s also important, I think, to allow them to follow their own road to that goal and allow them to get there in their own way.
It’s such a temptation to inundate the kid with advice and how-to’s and assorted help that interferes with their own explorations.
My daughter’s most heartful cry was always, “Mommy, me-do, me-do.” I did (eventually) learn to back off.
Boy! That was hard!
Haha, yeah I totally get that. Our son has that “me-do, me-do” phase as well every now and then, especially when he discovers something new. For example, when he learnd how to put his shoes on he wanted to do it all by himself. Now, a few weeks later, he went back to: “Daddy, can you help me put my shoes on!” – I would usually try to encourage him to try it himself, but it seems to “bore” him a bit, maybe!? I’m trying to keep encouraging him over and over again. I think the important thing for us as moms and dads is not to get tired and keep “pushing” our kids in the right direction…
Thanks again for your kind comment and all the best to you and your family,