The beginning of the calendar year presents a natural opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been and plan ahead for where we want to go in the New Year. It’s about marking accomplishments and figuring out what we want to learn next. It’s about realizing our shortcomings and finding specific ways to improve ourselves.
But wait a minute.
Can your five-year-old really set goals? How will you get your 16-year-old to look at you for five seconds to talk about goals and dreams?
Don’t worry…there are a few simple ways to incorporate goal setting into your family, no matter how old your kids are. Remember to participate yourself. Goals aren’t just great for kids; they are extremely beneficial for parents too. Read on and adapt a goal writing project that would work well for your home.
The Goal Square. Take a blank piece of paper and draw a vertical line and a horizontal line to create four squares. Write the following heading for each square:
Then fill in each square accordingly. Here are some examples:
TO DO – learn how to play an instrument, earn a B in history
TO BE – kinder with my sister (no yelling), more prayerful by praying before bedtime
TO SERVE – helping with the tech team at church once a month
TO HAVE – save enough money for a particular toy
The Goal Collage. Have your kids brainstorm about things they want to learn, do and be in the New Year. Then take old magazines and start cutting out images and headlines that could illustrate those ideas. Give each child a big poster board (we bought ours at the dollar store), glue sticks, and markers.
I have fond memories of doing this with my kids when they were just preschoolers. My daughter glued a toothbrush and blueberries on her goal collage because she wanted to get better about brushing her teeth and eating healthier. My son put tennis shoes on his collage because he needed to learn how to tie his laces.
The Goal Video. Have your kids decide on a few goals they want to accomplish. Then record them telling you about these goals. No doubt this video will be a keepsake when your child is an adult. You can show them their goal setting video on the first day of summer. It gives your child a chance to evaluate if he or she is progressing towards his or her desired goals. If the goals have been long forgotten, summer is a great time to try again. It’s helpful for your child to watch a video of themselves saying something like “I will make my bed every day” instead of just hearing you say it.
The Goal One Sheet. One goal achieved is better than ten goals set but forgotten. You can have your child write one goal in big letters on one piece of paper such as, “I will save $100.” Put that paper somewhere your child will see it often. Your artistic children can make a beautiful piece of art out of their goal statement. As your child focuses on one goal stated on one sheet, he or she will be likely to follow through. Be sure to celebrate together as a family when that goal is accomplished.
Lastly, when writing goals, teach your kids to make them specific. Don’t just write “eat healthier.” Write “I will eat fruit instead of cookies after school.” Make goals doable so your kids will taste success. Running one mile per day probably won’t work, but running a mile once a week could.
It’s best to begin your goal writing as a family with prayer, asking God to give you wisdom and direction for the New Year. Play reflective instrumental music in the background to set the right mood, then enjoy setting goals with your kids. We’re never too young or too old to learn something new or change a bad habit.
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Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of several books including Parents Rising: 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority, and Value What’s Right. and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom. Learn more at ArlenePellicane.com.