Examples of goals for children (in the short & long term)

Examples of goals for children (in the short & long term)

Teaching your kids about goal setting isn’t easy when they can’t see beyond instant gratification. To help, here are the best examples and methods that help with short and long-term goal setting.


Related: Life skills for kids


Some of our favourite example goals for children

  • Saving for a pair of trainers

  • Going to bed on time on school days

  • Tidying their room once a week

  • Doing their homework without being asked

  • Eat fewer sweets every day

  • Building financial literacy by tracking weekly spending and adding savings goals

  • Raising their grade level over an academic year

  • Learning a new skill, language or sport

  • Doing better in a subject over a term

  • Saving for a new computer or games console

Should parents set goals for children?

As tempting as it is, don’t set goals for your child. For goal setting to work, it needs to be a collaborative process so your child learns how to develop and meet goals effectively. For example, you may want your child to do better at maths, but if you set a goal for them to improve their marks this term, it won’t be achievable if they don’t see this as a goal they want to reach.


Likewise, your child may know what they want to achieve, for example, improve their football skills, do better in school or save money for a new gaming console, but if they don’t know how to reach that goal, they will become frustrated and give up. Understanding how to set and achieve goals with your help will instil confidence, and help them build a positive view of how to face challenges. It’s best to set goals with them by encouraging your child to think about what they want and then help them to break their goals down into smaller, more manageable steps.

Why should children set SMART goals?

SMART is a goal-setting technique that will help your child set goals more effectively. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. 


Each SMART goal should have these five characteristics to ensure the goal can be reached. So if your child’s goal was to get better at maths, the breakdown of this goal might be:

  • Specific: Improve maths skills by studying maths for 30 minutes every day after school.

  • Measurable: The goal is to achieve a better score on the next maths test

  • Achievable: Studying for 30 minutes every day after school

  • Relevant: Improving maths is crucial because they need to pass GCSE maths in Year 11

  • Timely: The goal is to see improvement on the next maths test at the end of the next term.

Goal-setting steps for children

With all goal-setting steps for kids, the steps must be achievable and manageable and provide a sense of purpose and direction so that your child gets a sense of accomplishment and a boost to their self-confidence.


Start by letting your child choose their goal. It may not always be the goal you want them to choose, but bear in mind the more control they are given over goals, the more work they’ll put into reaching them. If the goal is unrealistic, talk through the problem and help them set an abridged goal.  


Next, talk about how to reach their goal. Where will they begin? How can they break their goals into smaller steps that will motivate them? What obstacles might derail them, and how can they get around these? What’s the best way for them to get from the start to their objective? And what will help them to be resilient and bounce back when things go wrong?

Examples of goals for children 

Whatever goals your child sets, make sure they can be realistically achieved. An example is:


Specific: Saving for a pair of Nike trainers

Measurable: To save £2.50 every week and use £25 birthday gift money

Achievable: Saving £2.50 a week from £5 weekly pocket money

Relevant: Trainers are £55

Timely: Save £2.50 over the next 12 weeks to reach my goal

12 Short-term goals

  • Saving for a pair of trainers

  • Going to bed on time on school days

  • Tidying their room once a week

  • Doing their homework without being asked

  • Eat fewer sweets every day

  • Brush their teeth twice a day

  • Help clear the table after dinner

  • Be nicer to siblings

  • Read once a day 

  • Get up on time every day for school

  • Save up for my friend’s birthday

  • Earn money for chores

12 Long-term goals

  • Building financial literacy by tracking weekly spending and adding savings goals

  • Raising their grade level over an academic year

  • Learning a new skill, language or sport

  • Doing better in a subject over a term

  • Saving for a new computer or games console

  • Volunteering at a local charity for a set period

  • Improving their fitness by doing the couch to 5k app

  • Learning to cook

  • Starting and running your own business

  • Get a part-time job

  • Save up for a car

  • Save up for university

How does goal-setting benefit children?

Goal setting benefits children in so many ways. From increasing their motivation and resilience to helping them see that they can achieve whatever they set their minds on as long as they have a plan of action. Better still, goal setting can help your child feel more in control of their lives by showing them how to progress in small steps towards their end game. 

What should children avoid when goal setting? 

Having unrealistic goals

These goals are impossible to reach or have such stringent requirements that disillusionment is likely. For example, wanting to write a best-selling book. Aside from hard work, there are so many other factors out of your control that go into having a best-selling book that this is an unrealistic goal. A better goal to start with is to write a book.

Goals that aren’t broken down

Goals that don’t have achievable steps never happen. For example, wanting to be an actor isn’t likely if you haven’t acted before or taken a drama class. So achievable steps to this goal would be: take a drama class, perform in school plays, study screenplays and plays, audition and so on.

Giving up too quickly

We’re all guilty of this; children, in particular, can give up if they have a setback or have zero encouragement. Help them by not making it easy for them to give up. Ask what you can do to help. 

Letting SMART slide

One of the reasons goal setting doesn’t work is if you let the SMART rule slide and don’t work to meet the requirements.

Setting too many goals at the same time

Goals take time and effort to achieve, and while you can have a series of goals running concurrently, having too many challenging goals can cause a child to give up.

How can you help your child achieve their goals? 

Start them with short-term goals

These have a faster time frame and will give your child a sense of accomplishment and the motivation they need to tackle more long-term goals.

Lead by example

Show your kids that you are setting your own goals and working towards them. Whether it’s a career or money goal or a goal to be more healthy every day.

Give them the best parental support and encouragement

Praise them for setting goals and keeping to them, and be supportive when their enthusiasm is flagging. You could even incentivise them if they need extra encouragement.


Related: Ways how to be the best parent

Review goals all the time

Get your kids into the habit of checking and reviewing their goals at the halfway point. Get them to ask themselves, what’s going well and what’s going wrong? Do I need to tweak the plan or change the goal? Am I still committed to this goal, and if not, why not?

How can GoHenry help?

The GoHenry debit card for kids & financial learning app is the perfect tool to teach your child financial goal setting. Within the app, you can set up short and long-term savings goals that automatically direct a percentage of their pocket money into pots each week. You can also set up pre-agreed tasks aligned with your child’s short-term and long-term goals, such as tidying their room, cleaning their teeth and doing homework. These can be set at daily, weekly or one-off intervals to help them earn their pocket money and stay motivated. 


Money Missions on the app takes learning and goal setting further with quizzes and bite-sized lessons that earn your child points and badges, so they’ll stay motivated to continue and reach their financial literacy goals.



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Written by Anita Naik Published Mar 1, 2023 ● 5 min read