Developing good goal-setting habits early on can help kids throughout their academic years and prepare them for their first jobs and future careers. But many parents struggle with goal achieving themselves, so how can you help your kids develop good habits that will set them up for life?
The new year is a great time to start modeling positive goal-setting behavior for your kids. Here are some tips I’ve collected to help my own daughter create a template for goal-setting that she can use for the rest of her life.
New Year, New Goals, New Habits:
1. Remember the 21 day rule.
It takes 21 days for a behavior to become a habit. If waking up at 7 a.m. is your teen’s goal, coach them to keep at it for at least three weeks in order to give their goal time to become a habit that sticks. One day, when they least expect it, they might realize they’re waking up early without difficulty.
2. Teach “micro habits.”
Creating micro habits—smaller goals within the broader goal—is useful in helping you slowly inch toward bigger goals. Tell your teen to break up a big goal into smaller, detailed goals. Then walk them through setting up these mini-goals and explain that these little steps will carry them through to achieving their “big picture” goal.
3. Celebrate the small steps along the way.
Kids make mistakes and fail at their goals just like adults do, so be patient with them. By not interfering when they slip up, you will help them learn how to self-start. In order to encourage your kids, at least initially, be sure to celebrate their small achievements. Success will eventually be its own reward when they will learn how good it feels to achieve a big goal, but celebrating the little moments and ignoring the minor setbacks will keep them motivated.
4. Use digital tools.
Teach your child to be self-motivated by giving them the right digital tools. Digital tools that help kids cultivate good habits—like putting boundaries on screen time—make goal-setting much more fun.
5. Buddy up.
Let your kids know the importance of team work in helping them achieve their goals. For example, if they want to make a goal of eating healthy, suggest they ask their friends to start eating healthier meals along with them. This will teach them the value of support and the empowerment that comes from working as a team.
6. Share, share, share.
Teach your kids how to accept help and encouragement from others. It can be easy to fall back into old routines even after you’ve taken those first positive steps. Encourage them share their goals with friends and family so that they have outside support in staying focused on their goals.
Teaching your child the basics of goal setting at an early age will have many long-lasting benefits. Who knows, you may gain a new goal buddy of your own so you can keep each other accountable!