Setting Goals with Kids for the New Year

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Manic:  So focused on my own New Years resolutions and goals, that I forget to help my kids set some New Years goals, too!

Managed:  When writer and expert, Lisa Walton asked me about writing a piece about setting goals with your kids, I readily agreed that this is a good idea!  And she has some great stuff to share.  Take a look…

Lisa says:

January is known as a time to set goals and make resolutions.  Goal-setting is an important skill for kids to learn as well as adults.  It is a wonderful boost to your child’s self-esteem when they are able to set a goal, work hard, and then achieve it!

Here are some types of goals and suggestions for your children.   

Actively Listen to Child’s Wishes and Dreams

*Listen to statements from your children like “I wish I could _____”.  These are great opportunities to help them set a goal.

*For older children help them to explore interests, hobbies, sports, and possible job opportunities. 

*Helping them hone their interests may help them as they get older in selecting a rewarding career or fulfilling hobby. 

 Help them with Goal-Setting

*Younger children need to have very short term goals.  In fact their first goal should only take a day or two for them to truly understand the concept. 

*Use I-statements when writing goals (I can…, I will….), this helps them visualize that the goal IS something they CAN do. 

 Types of Goals:

Academic: (I can improve my grades; I can learn my multiplication facts)

Sports:  (I can score more rebounds in basketball; I can learn how to do a back handspring)

Personal:  (I can stay in my own bed all night; I can keep my room clean)

Financial:  (I can save money to buy a new video game)

Relationships:  (I can make a new friend at school)

Health:  (I can eat healthier foods; I can exercise or play outside for 60 minutes each day)


Develop Timeline/Steps to Attain their Goal

An important step is setting a timeline that is age appropriate.  Sometimes it’s necessary to break things into smaller (more attainable) chunks in order to achieve a larger goal.  Children may need help developing this hierarchy along the way.  Here are some examples:

 Goal:  I can keep my room clean

  1. Make bed every day
  2. Keep books on bookshelf
  3. Put dirty clothes in hamper
  4. Keep clean clothes put away
  5. Put toys away each day

Goal:  I can be more organized for school

  1. Keep track of my own homework assignments
  2. Pack my own backpack daily
  3. Choose my own school clothes & lay it out ahead of time
  4. Pack my own lunch
  5. Pay attention to the clock and recognize when it is time to go to school


 Encourage Them, and Model Perseverance

Help children reflect on their progress daily.  Encourage them by using comments like, “Look how close you are”.  Praise them each step of the way.  Develop your own goals, and monitor your own progress so children can learn by example.  When barriers or obstacles come up, show them how important it is to keep on working towards your goals!

 Monitor Progress:

There are many ways to chart progress.  Several websites offer free behavior or reward charts online to print out.  But you can easily draw out your own table, pictures, or game boards to use.  You can color in progress or use stickers to show their success.  I recommend posting the chart in the area nearby what they are working on (bathroom, bedroom, desk, etc) as a visual reminder.  Here are some examples I found online:



Help them Celebrate:

Reward them for their hard work and perseverance.  Show them how proud you are of them and help them celebrate. 

Not only will it boost your child’s self confidence but their self-esteem as well! 

~Happy New Year and Happy Goal Setting!~

About the Author…Lisa Walton:

Lisa Walton–Parenting tips
Valley Teacher and Mother

Lisa Walton has been a teacher in the Valley for over 18 years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Deaf Education from Illinois State University; and Master’s Degree in Special Education from Arizona State University.  She currently works as an itinerant teacher, collaborating with regular education teachers in the public schools.

Read more about Lisa on our team bio page