LEARNING | Parenting

How To Teach Goal Setting For Children Effectively

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As moms, we want the best for our children, and that includes not only doing things for them but also teaching them to do things for themselves. With goals, teaching goal setting for kids can be a challenge at times, but helping your kids achieve their goals is so important! Here are some mom hacks and tips for teaching goal setting for children and how to overcome obstacles that may be in the way.

Simple Goal Setting For Kids

While many adults set goals and New Year’s resolutions, not many children attempt to do this. Why not help with goal setting for children or with resolutions for the upcoming year? 

If you’re thinking your kids are too wrong for setting goals, think again! There’s absolutely no reason your child can’t set goals any time he wants to. In fact, it’s a great habit for them to get into!

Their goal could be something as simple as reading one book each month or learning how to print their name by their 4th birthday. Other goals could be to learn how to tie their shoes or even to help mom in the kitchen at dinner time. 

Whatever it is, know that it’s a life skill. You need to teach goal setting for children to give them a strong start for success later in life.

Research has shown that goal-setting can be extremely useful to maintain focus, motivation, and ultimately achieving what we are trying to accomplish (i.e. achieving our goals).

Melbourne Child Psychology & School Psychology Services, Port Melbourne
kids high living to celebrate reaching the goals they set with text: "helping your kids reach their goals"

How To Help With Goal Setting For Kids

Getting your children into the habit of setting goals and reaching them will help them in all areas of their lives. They will learn it is possible to set a goal and reach it and that this process can actually be a fun one. 

Goal setting for kids can be as simple as accomplishing household chores by a certain day each week or as complex as training to run a long distance race. They can be as creative as writing a novel or as serious as winning a spelling bee.

It’s important to help your child set goals, but some kids will resist due to fear of failure or overwhelm. That’s where you, as the mom, come in to help! And here are some tips for you to help them not only succeed, but enjoy the process of setting and achieving goals.

Goal Setting For Children Is Fun When Doing It Together

If your child is nervous about setting (and reaching) goals on their own, you could always help them set a goal that relates to yours in some way or other. By doing this, everyone in the family can be working on similar things together…and encouraging one another!

For example, you may want to exercise more, so why not involve your kids too? Help them decide what type of exercise or sport they would like to participate in. Family sports include things like skating, skiing, hiking, cycling, walking and running. Or you could all sign up for a self defense class. 

From setting goals to exercising, when doing activities, isn’t it always better doing them together?

Writing Down Goals Is Essential

Once your child has decided on their new goal help them write it down and create a date for it to be in place.

Making a plan is a very important element of successful goal setting — for children and adults alike.

Even though you’re helping them, try not to make the decision for your kids. Instead, give them ideas and suggestions but let them make the final choice. 

Making Goals Achievable Is Crucial – As Is Setting A Date!

Even very young children can set a goal for themselves, whether it is just cleaning their room or learning to get dressed without any help. Be available to give them help when it is needed, but allow them to try and figure out how to reach their own goals. 

You should encourage your children to set a goal that can be achieved in a relatively short time frame, too.

Getting them to learn how to tie up their own running shoes by spring would be a good example. Goal dates could be based around the changing of the seasons, based on their birthday or for the start of your annual family vacation. 

Children will have a much shorter attention span so it is important that you are there to give them encouragement and support as needed.

It may not be necessary for them to work on their goal every single day. Maybe putting some time aside on the weekend is sufficient. 

Older children can have larger goals, possibly ones where they have to save money in order to get something they have dreamed of owning. Or you may offer to pay half if they save up the other half. This teaches children that they have to work to get things in life. Plus they will value their new item more if they had to spend some of their own cash for it! 

Accomplishment Should Always Be Celebrated…And Continued!

Goal setting for kids can be a challenging concept So once your child reaches their goal, let them know how proud you are of them.

Share their success with other family members, too. Then encourage them to set a new goal.

Goals can be set around personal achievements, the desire for a new toy, or wanting to join a new sports team or take up a new hobby. 

If their goal is a little harder for them to achieve, help them write out a plan of smaller steps so that they can actually reach their goals. Remember to help them learn to enjoy their journey by making it fun. 

Goal Setting For Children Often Means Redefining Failure

But what happens when your precious child sits and cries because they failed to reach a goal?

Perhaps someone else won the blue ribbon or finished first. Maybe they aren’t meant to be a great novelist. Or perhaps they ran out of time to finish a project in time to give it as a Christmas gift.

What then?

Adjusting Goals For Kids: Tweaking The Action Steps

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.


Sometimes it’s as simple as examining how they were going about achieving the goal and adjusting the process.

Maybe they need to learn a new skill, obtain a new tool, or simply need a helping hand. Part of becoming skillful at reaching goals is learning how to self advocate, ask for help, or realize what you’re missing so you can pivot.

Adjust Goals By Changing The Outcome

However, sometimes being a successful goal-setter (and achiever) is knowing when you’ve set the wrong goal and learning how to pivot and chase a new goal.

For instance, maybe in the course of training to run a marathon your child realizes that flat feet or asthma don’t make that goal truly realistic. It’s completely okay to to change the goal to walking or a shorter distance or a new skill altogether!

Understanding Success: The Real Victories

Through the process of goal setting, overcoming obstacles, and learning to adjust your child will enjoy many more victories than he or she realizes.

Learning how to adjust, adapt, ask for help, handle disappointment, and so on are the true victories of this journey…and you are the perfect guide for them as they learn these things!

How To Teach Goal Setting For Kids

The best way to teach goal setting for kids is by example. Show them what it looks like to set goals and achieve them. Let them see you work hard towards your own goals, and celebrate your accomplishments. If you want to help your child learn about goal setting, try using these tips as a starting point. And remember, practice makes perfect – so make sure you model good goal setting habits yourself!

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