It’s that time again, when you review the year that has just passed, and carefully lay out your plans for the year ahead. If you’re a parent, this is also the time when you are preparing your kids to switch gears from holiday mode and head back to school. However, making resolutions and goal-setting for the New Year should not be confined to adults, your children can gain a lot from it too!
Why Set Goals?
Have you ever had to contend with a child who shies away from learning new things, because it seems too challenging? Or whines and protests when a task or the learning process gets too hard? In goal-setting, you and your child can work together to identify concrete steps that they need to take, to achieve their intended end result. Research has shown that individuals who set their own targets, have more perseverance, motivation and are more likely to achieve what they set out to do. By setting their own goals, your child will have a sense of purpose and take ownership of the situation, rather than feeling compelled to do something because you ‘said so’, and feeling resentful about it.
Setting unrealistic targets can be the biggest pitfall of goal-setting, and have a de-motivating effect on your child. Guide your child to set ‘SMART’ goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound. For example, if your child decides that he wants to learn to play a musical instrument, you could break that larger goal down into smaller steps for him; joining a weekly class, practicing daily for 20 minutes each day, and mastering a simple song by the end of the first set of lessons. You should also speak with the instructor to check that your goals are realistic and in keeping with your child’s development stage; for example, an older child would have greater dexterity than a younger one. Get your child to write down his goals, and make a progress chart as a visual reminder of what he wants to achieve. This will enable him to track his own progress through the year.
Find an Accountability Partner
It is perfectly normal to get distracted or discouraged when accomplishing long-term goals. You can be an accountability partner for your child when they veer off-course. When your child is empowered to set their own goals, it also serves as an opportunity to nurture your parent-child bond; the tone of your conversations will change as you will not be nagging at your child to complete her work, but asking if she has been meeting targets that have been mutually agreed upon ahead of time. As a result, the level of grumbling and whining from your child will drop significantly! For an older child who is well into teen-hood, you may consider introducing other trusted wise adults who can mentor your child, particularly if it’s a niche subject matter that you are unfamiliar with. These adults will be a valuable support system for your child, in the years to come.
As a parent, you are uniquely placed to be your child’s greatest cheerleader, and indeed, this will be your primary role as you journey with your child towards their goal. Rather than waiting for them to reach the long-term target, take time to celebrate the smaller milestones and challenges overcome along the way. You will be rewarding their good attitude and effort, and reinforcing the positive behaviours that will be useful to them in adulthood as well.
Equipping your child to set their own goals and achieve them will give them a sense of independence and confidence to chart their own course in future – a priceless gift from a parent. As you decide on your own resolutions for this year, encourage your children to set their own goals as well!
Copyright © 2017. Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd.
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