Teaching kids to set and achieve goals
Knowing how to set and achieve goals is a great life skill - but it’s one that even adults struggle to master. According to research*, only 12% of people actually accomplish their New Year’s resolutions! Goal-setting helps us develop a sense of purpose and can be incredibly empowering. If you make it fun and relevant, even younger children can learn about this important skill. Here are some helpful tips to help.
Define the word ‘goal’
First up, it might pay to explain that goals aren’t only in sports. At its most basic, a goal is something you want to do or have, or a place you want to get to. People set goals for things they want to achieve or get better at. Planning what you need to work on is called goal-setting. It’s a skill that will help you in school, at home, with your friends, or later in your job or as an adult. It’s a skill that helps you succeed.
Talk about your family’s goals
Talk about the goals your family has, for example, saving up for a holiday or to buy a pet, and the steps you need to take to reach them. You can gently introduce kids to concepts such as budgeting and planning, and preparing for things in advance. You can talk about ‘what if’ situations too, where things you do now can help in the future, for example insuring yourself and your partner with life insurance. Cigna Insurance offers affordable tailored packages for whatever stage of life you’re in.
Talk about how goals can change
Share with your kids about how you wanted to be an astronaut or an artist as a child, but you realised you were great with numbers so became an accountant instead. Share how having a family suddenly made your number one goal in life to protect them (Cigna Life Insurance can help here). Knowing that goals can change throughout life will help them realise they can be flexible, and that they don’t have to make all their decisions right now.
Explain there’s no instant gratification
Kids usually want to taste success immediately or at least as soon as possible. Explain that in order to achieve a goal you first have to do something – and it usually involves making an effort! A great example for any age is climbing stairs: to reach the top, you have to climb each stair, usually one by one. You can also explain that goals can be divided into short-term, medium and long-term. Younger children will probably only manage the concept of short-term goals to begin with.
Talk about your child’s hopes and dreams
Hopes, dreams and goals have a lot in common. Talking to your child about what they dream of being, what they hope will happen in their lives is a useful and age-appropriate way of helping your child understand this concept, and help you get a gauge on what your child’s goals could be.
Model good goal-setting yourself
Household chores can be an easy way to model goal-setting: within your child’s hearing, say I’m going to fold and put away this laundry before 5pm, and do it. Your child will see goal-setting in operation. Better still, ask them to help you set your goal!
Tailor the goals
Of course, your child’s goals need to be within their abilities, and be realistic. Without dumping cold water on their desires, gently guide them toward achievable and useful goals. Some goals could be learning a new skill, saving their money to buy something, making a new friend, reading a certain book, writing a letter to grandparents, learning to answer the phone, doing something without reminders.
Have some fun
Try these ideas to help make goal-setting fun for your family.
- Make a bucket list of fun family activities for the holidays
- Create a vision board covered with pictures of your child’s goals on it
- Discuss family goals at dinner once a week. Make up some silly ones - they don’t have to be serious all the time!
- Help your older child find some goals to set by creating an interest map of the things they like doing and see if there’s a pattern
- Stick a list of your child’s goals on the fridge and make an effort to tick off each one when it’s achieved.
- Have a victory dinner to celebrate the achievement of big goals