Healthy Habits for 2013: Teaching Your Children the Importance of Goal Setting

As I stated in my previous blogs, a new year often means a new start and new goals for the upcoming months.  As adults (parents, goal settingteachers, therapists), we have a huge influence upon the lifestyles of the children around us that will impact the way that they are going to live. We need to make sure that we are teaching our children well so that they may learn how to make their own healthy choices in the future. This includes setting both short-term goals and long-term goals.

Here are a few simple tips to keep with you and your family as you reflect on the year ahead:

  • Help your child set goals that will be measurable and attainable. If the goal is unrealistic, the child will most likely not be successful in reaching it. He or she will give up before any progress is made. Start small and remember that you do not always have to aim for 100% completion of a task (e.g. By April, I will be able to tie 1 of my 2 shoes independently).
  • Set a variety of goals, including various skills and settings. For example, help your child to set goals for home, school, and within his extracurricular activities. Similarly, help your child to set goals related to both fine motor skills, gross motor skills and/or social skills (e.g. By the end of the month, I will ask two different friends to come over for a play date).
  • Try brainstorming different ideas by using probing questions. For example, ask your child, “Is there something one of your friends knows how to do that you would like to be able to do?” Another question may be, “What is one thing that is really easy for you at school and one thing that is challenging for you at school?” You may also make the question more specific, such as, “What is one way that you could improve your handwriting this semester?”
  • Make sure to hold one another accountable in working towards and reaching these goal. Celebrate when a family member is successful (e.g. write goals on a family wipe-off board or calendar).
  • Remember to praise even the smallest steps when working towards a goal and offer constructive feedback rather than negative feedback.  An example is “I really like how you’re keeping your eyes on the ball, now try to catch the ball with your hands rather than against your body!” rather than “You’re having a hard time catching the ball in your hands.”

As you can see, there are several easy ways to incorporate New Year’s resolutions and goal setting into your family’s daily activities! Make sure you are demonstrating the importance of creating attainable and meaningful goals to your children by making it a priority in your own life. Feel free to reach out to your child’s classroom teacher, sports coaches or therapist in order to collaborate on individualized goals for the New Year.