Goal setting is important to help keep us focused and intentional in the things that we do in life. Edwin Locke did research on the goal setting theory and noticed that people that set specific, difficult goals did better than those that set easy general goals. As individuals, we need to have something in life to strive for. It helps keep us motivated and have a purpose in our lives. You can set long term goals and then develop smaller goals or a plan to help you reach your goal.
You may be asking the question, “At What age should I start teaching goal setting with my child?” At a young age goal setting is too abstract for them to understand but you can start with using the word goal in your vocabulary. For example, At age two, when you are beginning the pottty training phase. Your child can set a goal to stay dry until naptime. The next goal would be to tell an adult when they must go. That is a simple goal and can be accomplished. You can praise them and say “Wow! You have completed your goal! Don’t you feel proud of yourself”.
Preschoolers can start to make small goals. They can talk about what they want to accomplish for the day. They can make a goal to sit at circle time without touching their friends or learn to write their own name. They can develop a plan with you to reach their goal. You can start instilling in them the language of goals and planning.
When children get older we can start setting more definitive goals. They can start with more long range goal setting. It can be a goal about their academics, athletics, art, or social goals. You can sit down with them and develop a plan to reach the goal they set. They can develop smaller goals under the big goals that can help them gauge their progress. It may take a long time to achieve some goals so have rewards and celebrate accomplishments along the way. Hold your child accountable and allow him to take responsibility in reaching their goals. Do not do it for them. This will help them gain their confidence and build self- esteem.
Goal setting instills perseverance and resilience because achieving goals take hard work. There will be challenges when trying to achieve goals. Nothing will come easy but we must keep working hard to reach our goals. When young children are working on goals their interest may change. Let them know it is ok to decide that they are not interested anymore. Also help your child understand that It is ok to fail, but when they fail they can reevaluate their plan and keep striving to reach their goal if it’s something they really want.
It’s the beginning of a new school year. Your child may have some goals that they want to achieve. Take the time to sit with your child to see what they want to achieve and set goals and plans to achieve them. Have a great school year!
By: Kelly Miller and Kia Miller