Teaching Kids about Setting Goals

With all this talk about New Year’s Resolutions, Word of the Year, and goal-setting, sometimes we forget to teach our kids how to set goals and keep them! I can easily set goals FOR my kids, but teaching them how to set their OWN goals is so much better for them.  It’s like the saying about how you can give a man a fish, but it’s better to teach him to fish!

Teaching Kids about Setting Goals

Why Should Kids Set Goals?

By teaching our kids (even young ones) to set goals, we are teaching them a discipline that will help them throughout their lives. Setting a goal, working towards it, and accomplishing something will become a normal way of living. Don’t you wish that you were taught how to discipline yourself this way as a child?

Plus, children like it! Kids love looking forward to something, so why not use that excitement to help them reach a goal. The ability to feel like they DID IT all by themselves is so important for their development.  That sense of personal pride in their achievements will expand into other areas of their lives! Okay, so you get why it’s good for them….

How Do I Teach My Kids About Goals?

Most kids can understand the basic principle of goals, but it’s the time it takes to reach a goal where they get lost. Unlike adults, kids need goals that are VERY short term to keep them engaged, so make sure to help them come up with goals that are achievable and short term enough that they can have success. 

At first, you might have to take the lead to help them come up with ideas.  Younger kids, especially, will need ideas and examples. Even though we are all homeschool moms, don’t make all their goals about school.  Let this be a time of personal development in all areas.  Maybe they want to make new friends, learn a new skill (like ride a bike), accomplish a hard task (monkey bars), or finish a certain number of books. Maybe they want to join a sport and get good at it (practice), save money to buy something, or raise money to help someone else. These are all great ideas for most ages.

It Has to Be Their Goal (Not Yours)!

Although you might be helping them to come up with an idea or two, make sure that the goal is something THEY want.  If it doesn’t come from their heart, it won’t matter. You’d hate to have to work towards a goal that you weren’t interested in, so don’t make your kids.  You can set academic goals and grade-level requirements separately.  If they don’t light up about it, don’t use it.

Set the Guidelines

Make sure that each goal is measurable.  How will you know if it’s done? They also have to be small enough and short-term enough to keep their attention.  Adjust this based on age and maturity levels.

Write down their goals and display them somewhere that they can see them often.  If it’s something that is done a certain number of times or grows to a certain number, then make a chart to track the progress so they can stay engaged and excited!

What If They Don’t Reach Their Goal?

Sometimes we worry, as moms, about how our children will feel when they fail.  Don’t. It’s okay if they fail at reaching a goal.  There are wonderful lessons to be learned.  First, they tried! How many adults never even make a goal? Second, ask “why?”  Why did they fail? Was it because they didn’t try hard enough? Was the goal too big or take too long for their age and maturity level? Was the goal unattainable?

If it was outside of their control, simply adjust the goal or change it and try again. Maybe the goal needs to be adjusted a bit.  If they didn’t try hard enough or long enough, then reassess.  Even if you think they were lazy, ask yourself why they were lazy.  Did they have a good example of trying hard? (that one can hurt) Were they “lazy” because they were overwhelmed so they just gave up?

I have a kid that will give up or not try at all if he feels he can’t succeed.  It’s not a great trait and its something that needs to be worked on…but knowing that about him helps me to guide and train him.

If nothing else, just break up the goal into smaller goals and take baby steps.  Sometimes kids just need some small successes to get the confidence to go after bigger ones!


Are you excited? I’m so excited to see what my kids can accomplish this year! These “small” things are big to them and great reminders to look back on! (so make sure to save your goals from year to year!)


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