Friday, January 13, 2017

Goal setting for kids--guidelines to help your children succeed with New Year's resolutions

Mom2MomEd Blog: Goal setting for kids--guidelines to help your children succeed with New Year's resolutions
As I write this, the New Year is just beginning, and like many of you, I've been thinking about this past year and my hopes for this new year.

I mentioned recently that to my 6 year old son that sometimes people make resolutions at this time of year in order to improve their lives or to change for the upcoming year. I suggested that maybe he would like to think about something he would like to do better this year as well.

He said, "Yeah, mom, I'll make a resolution." My heart got happy and I was so excited that he was on board with making some adjustments with his mama!

And then, he said...

"I'm going to be the BEST at building Legos, stay home from school, and just do nothing."

Um, well, kid, those are some, uh, interesting goals.

Of course, I should also tell you that I hadn't really explained what resolutions actually are, why they are significant or any other details to help him understand what all this New Year's stuff really meant. 

But alas, he then repeated his resolutions to me several times, with pride.


What I should have done, and meant to do, was to explain the significance of resolutions and goals and how New Year's resolutions in particular symbolize second chances, thoughtful planning, and looking ahead. It's a time to focus on what we want to do better and to bring new appreciation for the people and experiences that are important to us.

Since I obviously failed at giving my son a foundation upon which to set his resolutions, I will take the time to do so when I bring up resolutions next time!

Now that I've realized my mistake, I have decided to break the idea of resolutions and goal setting into categories to get both of my kids thinking about different parts of their lives. I'm calling them goals now since I think the idea of "resolutions" is too big and abstract for my 6 and 3 year old children. However, ultimately the specific word is less important than making sure your kids understanding the meaning of what you are talking about.

So, what categories will I be using with my kids in helping them to set and achieve some goals this year? We'll be setting goals in these areas:
  • Personal goals
  • A family goal
  • A community goal
As you can imagine, my kids are likely to come up with some rather abstract goals, so I do believe in helping guide children to more concrete ideas. However, immediately, we'll just be starting with ideas and then focusing them down as time moves on. I am focusing on process more than outcome at this point.

In addition to setting these categories and guiding my children from abstract to concrete ideas, I believe you also need to use age appropriate vocabulary and explanations with your kids. My children will understand "Everyone can do something better and everyone can help out a little more. Let's talk about how you can do that and how mommy and daddy can too."

As a visual person who has highly visually children, I typically write words or phrases (or have my son write them out) and then my kids illustrate the concepts we wrote down. We have already done this with chore charts (read more HERE), reminders, and other things posted around our house, and doing the same with our goals will fit in perfectly! We'll post our illustrated goals where we can see them all the time. That way, we'll see the goals throughout the day and it will serve as a visual reminder for us.

Since my kids are pretty young, personal goals for them might be things like remembering to clean up their toys before bed and putting things away where they belong so toys don't get lost. Or, maybe their goals might be things like making a new friend at school or the park.

Family goals will be guided quite a bit by my husband and I. I have in mind activities related to things like weekly family dates or outings that we can all do together. I'd also like to start giving to others as a family. Instead of just doing the same things over and over, I will be looking into various organizations and places in our community that might need help. For example, animal shelters are always looking for warm towels and blankets, along with dog food and other supplies--something I already committed to donating in 2017 (see THIS post). This also ties into a community goal, right? I also plan to look into volunteer opportunities and to reach out to some of our elderly neighbors to do some little good deeds!

Here's the catch in all of this resolution and goal setting...

It's all well and good to plan and think and want to do this stuff. The hard part is making a conscious effort to actually go out and do them and to include my children in my giving.

So, that's how I am starting the year with my family, but I'm really excited to know how YOUR family is approaching goal setting! Do you make or keep resolutions? How do you hold yourself accountable and how will you help to keep your kids involved and working towards their goals?  
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