Goals Are Not Just For New Year’s Resolutions, They Are For Kids Too!

Graduating girlWe create New Year’s resolutions because we want to make a big change in ourselves—but how do we get there? It’s all about breaking down that resolution into smaller steps! Your child can do this, too, and you might want to consider starting off the New Year with this conversation…

What are the benefits of creating goals for pre-teens and teenagers?

• Your children have been learning their health habits and establishing their lifestyle all based upon their life with you. As long as they still live under your roof, you have opportunities to set them up with good living habits.

• What you teach them now about making plans and following through will be beneficial to the development of responsibility for the rest of their life.

• When your child takes the steps necessary to achieve her goals, she is acquiring skills that lead to greater independence.

• The satisfaction that comes from being able to achieve a goal is a tremendous boost to self-esteem and happiness.

Tips for setting & achieving goals:

• Let them decide what they would like to achieve, and help them gather the tools to get there.

• All big goals should be broken down into small objectives. Make the small objectives achievable so that your child can jumpstart his/her plan successfully.

• Each objective should have a time frame. If the big goal is to be achieved in a month, make each smaller objective a weekly goal.

• Write everything down! This makes it more likely to happen. Make a list, chart it, or map it. Include spaces to check off when goals are met.

• Create a ladder that lists 10 steps to reach the desired outcome. Number one, at the bottom, should be the easiest step that can be achieved with little effort. The steps on the ladder should climb up to number 10, getting increasingly more difficult at each level.

• Review successes often. Whatever self-monitoring system you use, make it a powerful visual that your child can see. Increase confidence, self-efficacy and motivation to continue!

• Make sure all family members are aware of each other’s goals and plans so that everyone is supported. Siblings must understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that the home remains the most positive place to practice new skills and habits.

• Keep everything very positive so that it is all centered on what your child is doing well. For example, don’t make the goal “Stop doing X.” Rather, find a way to turn that into “Start doing X”.

• Goals can be individual or family-based. For example, parents can include the whole family in their own goals for healthy eating, perhaps making it a “family challenge” to eat five fruits and vegetables every day. Whoever gets there first picks out dinner that night. Make it fun! 

What can a middle schooler set goals for?

• Anything that is important to them can be transformed into an achievable goal with your help. Find out by asking questions about what kind of person they want to be, what they want to earn for themselves, what they think needs to change this year, and what problems they wish could go away.

• Suggest some of the following areas, and ask them to choose the top three that they think could get better:

  • Health
  • Organization
  • Money
  • Grades
  • Relationships with Mom/Dad
  • Social Life
  • Privileges
  • Sports/Exercise

*North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).  Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses.  No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT  to people submitting questions.  Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.