How Are You Doing With Those New Year's Resolutions?
Welcome to the first Solutions in Parenting Newsletter of 2010! We are excited to continue our work and expand our services to bring to you parenting education and family consultation you can use every day of the year.
It is also with great excitement that we introduce a topic we believe can provide children and families with the tools necessary to learn to make powerful, focused, life-choices in the form of goal setting.
Many of us participate in the yearly New Year tradition of achieving some sort of goal for ourselves. We usually call these goals "resolutions" and start out feeling very committed and earnest in our desires. We honestly want to lose weight, get into better shape, make more money, deepen our relationships, or take that vacation. Sometimes we really do accomplish these resolutions, but how often do we find ourselves, a month or so later, off-course?
Learning how to set goals and actually accomplish them takes instruction, discipline, support, and structure. Breaking old habits and establishing new ones takes time and dedication. What happens to us when we set our goals, but can't or won't achieve them? In order to experience success in reaching goals, the goals need to be clear, concise, believable, and well-outlined, considering the pro's and con's of this goal.
Parents can be very effective role models to their kids by constructing effective goal-setting systems for themselves, and by teaching their kids to use the same structure to reach their goals, as well.
When talking to young kids about goals, it is sometimes very effective to talk about goals as the dreams or wishes they may have. For example, young children may dream of going to Disneyland, eating ice cream, getting a puppy, becoming a professional performer or sports figure, or being able to fly. As kids get older, they will still have some wishes similar to the smaller children, but will have better ideas about what is believable or not, which is a key ingredient to being able to reach a goal. As kids grow into teens, they have the ability to set very concrete and powerful goals for themselves, and with the proper support and instruction from parents, they can achieve incredible heights.
It's very important for kids to understand that they have the personal power to choose what they want their lives to be like. Every time a child sets and reaches a goal, he is reinforcing his power to choose. He is choosing his own goal. He is choosing what steps to take to attain his goal. He is choosing to look honestly at any obstacles he may encounter and problem-solve solutions along the way. He is choosing to stay focused until he reaches his goal.
This simple process of goal-attainment teaches him that he worked hard to make his goal come true, and because the process is clear, documented, and well-planned, he knows how to replicate his success for the rest of his life. This is a very powerful tool in fostering self-confidence, responsibility, and raising a child's self-esteem.
Read on for our five tips for teaching kids (and and adults) how to reach their goals.
Five Tips for Successful Goal-Setting With Kids
1. Define "What". A good goal says exactly what your child wants to have happen. Help your child get as clear and detailed about his goal as possible. For example, if your child says, "I want to get a good grade in math", that is only part of the goal. This states the desire, or the wish. To be more specific, and to feel more believable, you may encourage your child to take a moment and think of what it would feel like to have a better grade, what is a good grade (an A? a B? a C?), and what has happened up until this point so that she is
experiencing this desire. Her decided upon goal-statement can now be, "I want to raise my math grade from a C+ to a B+". Once the goal is clear and detailed, have your child write down the goal.
2. Decide "When". After she has explored the details and has set a clear and defined goal, have her think about the "when". Keep in mind here, that young children will have a much different concept of time than older children do. This area may need to stay a bit flexible until your child really understands time in a literal sense. Encourage your child to think about what realistically can happen within certain time-frames. For example, chances are she can probably raise her grade a whole grade point in a relatively short amount of time, but probably could not raise her grade two or three grade points in the same amount of time. Here is what the developing goal-statement may sound like: "I want to raise my math grade from a C+ to a B+ by the end of next semester". Have her write that down underneath her goal-statement.
3. Decide "How". Once the "what" and "when" are set, help your child outline the specific steps for "how" she will reach the stated goal. For every "how" step, encourage your child to break-down that step into manageable pieces she will be able to accomplish. The goal-statement is: "I want to raise my math grade from a C+ to a B+ by the end of next semester". Instead of having only the one "how", for example, "I will do my homework", challenge her to think of four or five very specific steps she can take to reach her goal.
Her steps may be outlined like this:
"I will pay attention in class and not talk to my friends",
"I will ask questions in class when I don't understand what is being taught",
"I will do my homework every day",
"I will ask questions at home if I don't understand my homework",
"I will turn in my assignments on time",
"I will take advantage of test re-takes when available",
"I will use the study guides to study for my tests",
"I will use the online math resources my teacher gave to me to give me extra help".
Have her write down all of the relevant steps to help keep track.
4. Explore the "What-if's". This step is incredibly important, yet easily over-looked. Setting a goal and outlining the steps necessary to achieve it is a big part of the process. However, the last part, exploring the possible obstacles, is essential to visualizing the goal as it pertains to real life. For example, the goal-statement, "I want to raise my math grade from a C+ to a B+ by the end of next semester", is realistic in theory. When we are committing ourselves to achieving a goal, we need to look at our lives from all angles and see how that goal fits into our daily realities. Will this child be able to satisfactorily complete her math homework every day if she is out late with ballet class, swim team and soccer? How about access to a computer for those online resources? Is she self-assured enough to ask questions in class or is she too shy or uncomfortable? All of these are potential obstacles and can derail even the most earnest goal-setter. Make sure that for every "how" that is listed, there is also a consideration for how realistic that is based on the individual child's lifestyle, temperament, and perspective. The steps can be adjusted, as well as the main goal-statement, until it is a comfortable fit. It's very important that the adults let the goal-setter explore her own obstacles, with some gentle guidance, and not come up with a negative thought for every step she outlines. That may discourage her and get in the way of her own process. Most
of the time, minor adjustments can be made so that the goal can remain solid,
and the goal-setter can feel even more prepared to succeed.
After your child feels satisfied with her goal-statement, have her post it where she can reference it often. She can choose to check-off the steps as she reaches them to keep herself on track.
Click here for your Goal-Setting Worksheet and start helping your kids reach their goals today!
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Monthly Parenting Challenge
What Goals Have You Achieved?
Take a moment to think about any goals you have achieved. What was the goal? Can you remember your goal-statement? What were the obstacles and how did you handle them? Why do you think you experienced success with this goal?
Throughout this next month, try to set a reasonable goal for yourself. If you had set a New Year's Resolution, honestly assess how you are succeeding or not with that commitment. If you are having trouble sticking to your resolutions, try using the four-step goal-setting process with the worksheet. Chances are, your goal is a great one, it just may need some minor adjustments to fit it into your "real" life.
After you have perfected your goal-statement, post your worksheet and track your progress. We believe you will have success and be modeling powerful messages to your kids at the same time.
Let us know how it goes, we are always curious.
No More Excuses
At Solutions in Parenting, we
offer personal parenting education and consultation for committed
parents who want to raise confident, compassionate and responsible
children. We are fortunate to get the opportunity to work with many different families in many different stages of life.
We can help you and your family thrive, whether we consult with you face-to-face, talk on the phone, communicate through email or talk in a workshop or group. No question or topic is too small or too big.
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So more excuses. Keep that "becoming a better parent in 2010" goal, and contact us today for more "how to" details!
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Kristi Miller, MA, CAPI, and Solutions in Parenting Founder, is a Certified Aware Parenting Instructor and Parenting Consultant who offers a distinctive form of parent education coupled with hands-on training for parents and their families. For more than a decade, Kristi has been dedicated to a specialized form of parent education she developed which honors and encourages parents and helps them define and maintain their own personal styles. This, in turn, allows children to thrive in a loving and collaborative environment.
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