As parents, there is a multitude of skills, values, and tools we want to teach and equip our children with, as we prepare them for life outside of our home and family. One of the most important of these to instill is resilience and grit. Resilience is the ability to get back up when you fall, to carry on despite having failed, met an obstacle, or been let down. It is the ability to persevere when things get tough or don’t go according to plan. We don’t want to teach children how to make sure things never go wrong, that’s not realistic or helpful. We want to teach them how to carry on and thrive when they do. One of the most effective ways to teach resilience and develop grit in children is to engage with them and teach them about goal setting. Goal setting is a great way to introduce the concept of a growth mindset to children, instilling in them the belief that they possess the power to grow and learn and thrive. Goal setting will empower them, boost their self-esteem and enrich their lives. Here are some great tips to keep in mind when teaching your kids about goal setting:
Let Them Set the Goal
This may seem obvious, but when it comes to working on goal setting with children, it is deeply important to allow them the opportunity to create their own goals. While it may be tempting to make suggestions, this may leave them feeling overwhelmed or confused. Instead, you can ask them helpful questions such as: What is something you wish you could do? What is an obstacle that would make you feel proud to overcome? What would you want to try if you knew you would not fail?
It is important to make sure when you are helping your child set their goal, that it is measurable, trackable, and achievable. Recognizing and identifying progress as it happens is deeply important to the success of this exercise, and so choosing an appropriate goal where progress can be identified is paramount.
Explore the Purpose of their Goal
It is important to talk with your child about why they want to achieve this goal. Identifying the purpose within the goal, and why it matters to them, is one of the best ways to help your child see the value in the journey as they work towards achieving a goal.
Break it Down
The best kinds of goals are ones that are within reach. Goals that are too lofty, unrealistic, or present too many obstacles will ultimately result in a child that feels defeated and discouraged. Breaking down an appropriate goal into smaller, increasingly difficult but achievable steps is an important part of this process. Smaller steps mean your child is able to maintain a level of determination and motivation over an extended period of time. Some children benefit from a visual representation of their progress, and you may opt to draw a ladder, with the ultimate goal at the top and the progression of steps that must be achieved in order to get to the top.
Brainstorm Possible Challenges & Obstacles
If you don’t discuss and plan for potential challenges on the road to achieving your child’s goal, an unforeseen problem can completely derail this process. Discuss with your child the possible obstacles they may face, and work together to brainstorm potential solutions to these obstacles. Preparing your child for the possibility that things might go wrong, and what to do when they do, is one of the most valuable and powerful parts of the goal-setting process.
What to do If They Want to Give Up
If your child is discouraged and says they want to give up, there are a few simple things you can do to keep them on track. The first is to remind them of the purpose of their goal. Ask them: Why is this important to you?
This is also a great opportunity to revisit the strategies they had come up with to help themselves when challenges present themselves. Celebrate their progress this far, and help them by gently exploring what went wrong and what they might do differently moving forward. You can also share some relevant examples of when you may have felt like you wanted to give up on something and how you overcame that.
Overall, the most important lesson in goal setting is about being kind and patient with ourselves. Teach and model positive self-talk, and share some simple affirmations with your child such as “I can do this!” and “I am working hard to reach my goal.” It is also important to model goal setting in your own life, and be open and share your own goals, challenges, and progress with your child. If you want to learn more about goal setting and how you can help support yourself and your child through work with a registered coach, contact me and schedule your complimentary discovery call today!