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How to Help Your Kids with Goal-Setting

January 1st marks the annual tradition of setting new year’s resolutions. Taking the opportunity to adopt a healthier lifestyle sets a great example for your kids. But the act of setting goals itself is a healthy life skill you can teach them.

Goals for Self-Esteem

Think about your own experiences with goal setting. When you set unrealistic goals, you’re less likely to succeed, and that can make you feel bad about yourself. Setting realistic goals makes you more likely to succeed and feel good about yourself.

Think about your experiences with failure, too. We all want our children to succeed, but everybody faces setbacks. Practice pursuing goals, and you learn how to deal with failure without feeling bad about yourself.

Children need to develop resilience, perseverance, flexibility, and ambition. These life skills arise from participating in activities that are both challenging and enjoyable. Whether it’s cooking, dance, sports, art, invention, programming, or building that insane Lego set they got for Christmas, encourage your kids to set resolutions and teach them ways to stick with it!

Setting Healthy Resolutions

One of the most popular new year’s resolutions is to lose weight or get in shape. Children learn from their parents and older relatives. Because of this, it’s important to keep a healthy perspective when setting goals about dieting and exercise. Avoid fad diets, respect your limits, and know that healthy bodies come in many shapes and sizes.

Adults often set self-improvement goals, such as being more mindful, getting organized, reading more, or becoming more involved in the community. You might want to include your whole family in some resolutions. For example, you can encourage everyone in your family to eat healthier. But don’t forget to let kids choose their own goals, too.

Keeping Expectations Real (And Dealing With Quitters)

Parents, it’s okay if your children frequently change their minds about what they want to do in their free time. Yes, it can be frustrating to switch from soccer to dance to karate in the course of a semester, but it doesn’t mean your child lacks motivation or commitment. They’re growing fast and exploring different interests.

If they want to quit, ask why. Let them know you want to hear if someone is hurting them or making them feel uncomfortable. If those aren’t the reasons they want to quit, the conversation can turn to either problem-solving (“You want to quit because it’s too hard? What about if you try a more beginner level?”) or simply understanding that they’ve moved on. When you invest in an activity for your child, hold them accountable to attending a certain number of lessons, or responsible for finishing out one season.

When it comes to long-term, difficult goals, encourage your kids to dream big and work one day at a time. Break long-term goals into measurable short-term gains to keep the momentum going. Remind them that good is better than perfect. The pressure to be the best at something (or everything!) can create stress, which results in a range of health issues; but a healthy drive to succeed relies on good self-esteem. So, when setting goals, encourage children to be specific, realistic, and accountable. Keep that shining goal in mind when dealing with stress and setbacks along the way, and let them know you’re proud of them.

Have a happy, healthy new year!

Posted in Blog on December 27th, 2017