When children, like adults, sense they can’t attain their goals, feelings of frustration often lead to complacency and even giving up. What’s lacking in the time between setting goals and being overwhelmed by feelings of failure? Self-reflection. Fostering your child’s ability to reflect on aspirations alongside shortcomings fosters personal growth and ultimately a greater chance for success. Teaching children to set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals will set them up for an accomplished future with a solid self-worth.
To help a child set specific, attainable goals, support them in evaluating their strengths and weaknesses through self-reflection. Guide them toward recognizing their strengths and simultaneously hone into their interests by asking about past goals and why, from their perspective, those goals were successfully accomplished. Further, ask questions about their reasoning for setting specific goals. In doing so, you are confirming that their goals are in line with both their strengths and their interests and are therefore increasing their chances for success. Asking questions about goal setting guides children toward self-reflection while also instilling the value in self-reflection for future goal setting.
It is essential to support goals that your child deems as important and in line with their value system. Be careful not to impose your values, wants, and desires on your child. When a child sees the worth in the accomplishment of a goal, based on their value system, the time and work required for success is simply the path toward success. In contrast, when a child does not understand the value in accomplishing a goal, the time and work required for success is ignored and the chance of success significantly narrows. Increasing chances for successful accomplishment of goals is key for a strong sense of self-worth, because being unable to accomplish any goals not only weakens a child’s self-worth but also limits their possibilities for future success. Focusing on specific, attainable goals that focus on a child’s strengths and interests make children aware of life’s endless possibilities while still teaching that hard work is required to meet goals.
- Broaden your child’s horizons. Expose your child to a variety of activities. Inquire about what they like about the activity, encouraging them to form opinions on their interests. Take these interests into consideration when guiding them to make goals.
- Listen to your child’s aspirations. Allow your child to express their thoughts and desires, especially when it comes to what they aspire to accomplish, even if they are thinking outside the box you have drawn for them. Your children may surprise you and have dreams of goals you never would have imagined!
- Unleash your child’s talents. Be a constant observer and always make inquiries with other mentors in your child’s life. Don’t be scared to inquire with others (e.g., teachers, coaches) about your child’s talents—they may have discovered something you haven’t seen or could never have imagined!