Help Your Kids Set Goals Without Taking Over

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Kids are so fun to be around due to their exuberant spirits. They don’t think too much about things that might worry adults, and they’re always up to trying something new. As we start a fresh year, many of us are focused on our individual goals. However, I often hear my kids talk about their goals. Whether it’s my kindergartner wanting to get better at riding a bike or my middle schooler talking about improving his basketball skills, it can be surprising to many adults that kids really want to achieve specific things during the year, too.

While many young children may not know exactly what “goals” are, they are setting them all the time. As parents, we just want to help, which is why I plan to assist my kids in achieving some of the goals they’ve expressed to me. Here are some things I’m doing to offer support and encouragement — while still keeping it fun and not taking over:

1Determine a ‘Why’

When it comes to goals, there’s always a reason behind them. Find out why your kids want to achieve a certain goal and what they expect will happen once they reach it. 

This is the perfect time to help them set realistic expectations and have an open dialogue about why this particular goal is so important to them. It’s a great opportunity to get to know your kids better.

2Help Them Create a Plan

A clear plan is a key element to achieving any type of goal. It’s important to help your child lay out some steps that they should take or habits they can develop to increase their success rate.

For example, if your child wants to learn how to ride a bike, you may want to help them to create some action steps, such as:

  • Watching a video about riding a bike for beginners.

  • Accompanying you to the store to obtain the correct gear, like a helmet and kneepads.

  • Practicing a few times per week.

When my son set a goal to buy some new shoes, his plan involved checking the chore chart to stay on top of his tasks so he could earn an allowance, along with helping his dad with side projects.

3Make It Visual

Consider having your child write out their goal plan and place it somewhere in their room. If they can’t read yet, you can always have them draw or print out pictures that symbolize the steps.

Another way to make it visual is by using a chart or 3-D item to track their progress. Your child can color in a section of the chart whenever they get a step closer to reaching their goal. You can also try to build something together and spread the process out over time as they’re working on their goal.

4Offer Gentle Accountability

As a parent, you can be the best accountability partner for your child. One summer, my child set a goal to land an acting gig. Instead of just writing off his dreams, I helped him create a plan that involved him researching some local classes, and taking speech therapy.

I also found an online course that he could watch, and I held him accountable for finishing it. Offer check-ins, timely reminders, and a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen when they need it.

5Use It as a Teachable Moment

Just like with adults, kids may not reach every goal they set. My son hasn’t landed an acting gig yet and took a break from that goal to focus on sports. What he learned was that some things are harder to achieve, and that’s okay.

Obstacles arise and changes are a natural part of life. It’s fun to see your child reach their goals, but it’s also just as meaningful to watch them try to problem-solve and grow. It’s all part of the learning process and it will help them achieve bigger, more meaningful goals in the future.

Tags: Activities for Kids, Developing Skills & Character, Motherhood, parenting

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Written By

Chonce Maddox

Choncé is a CFEI and freelance writer from the Midwest who loves to encourage open discussions about personal finance with her writing. See Full Bio

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