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.
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 grades this term, it won’t be achievable unless it’s one 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 may become frustrated and give up.
Understanding how to set and achieve goals with your help will instill confidence, and help them build a positive view of how to face challenges. It’s best to set goals with your child by encouraging them to think about what they want first, then help them break their goals down into smaller, more manageable steps.
Why should children set SMART goals?
SMART is a goal-setting technique that’ll help your child set goals more effectively. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Each SMART goal should have five characteristics to ensure it can be reached. Let’s say your child’s goal is to improve at math, the breakdown might be as follows:
Specific: Improve math skills by studying it for 30 minutes every day after school.
Measurable: The goal is to achieve a better score on the next math test
Achievable: Studying for 30 minutes every day after school
Relevant: Improving at math is crucial because they need to pass their GED/diploma
Timely: The goal is to see improvement on the next math test at the end of the semester.
Goal-setting steps for children
With all goal-setting steps for kids, the steps must be achievable and manageable. They should also provide a sense of purpose so your child gets a sense of accomplishment along with a self-confidence boost.
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’re given over goals, the more work they’ll put into reaching them. If the goal is unrealistic, talk it through and help them set a more achievable one.
Next, discuss 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 if 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 sneakers
Measurable: To save $2.50 every week and contribute $25 birthday gift money
Achievable: Saving $2.50 a week from $5 weekly allowance
Relevant: Sneakers are $55
Timely: Save $.50 over the next 12 weeks to reach my goal
12 examples of short-term goals
Saving for a pair of sneakers
Going to bed on time on school days
Tidying their room once a week
Doing their homework without being asked
Eat less candy every day
Brush their teeth twice a day
Help clear the table after dinner
Be kinder to siblings
Read a book once a day
Get up on time every day for school
Save up for my friend’s birthday
Earn money for chores
12 examples of 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
Learning to cook
Starting and running your own business
Get a part-time job
Save for a car
Save for college
How does goal-setting benefit kids?
Goal setting benefits kids in so many ways. From increasing their motivation and resilience to helping them see 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’ve never acted before or taken a drama class. Achievable steps to this goal would be: take a drama class, perform in school shows, study screenplays and scripts, audition, and so on.
Giving up too quickly
We’re all guilty of this; children, in particular, can give up if they experience a setback or get 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 you are setting your own goals and working towards them. Whether it’s a career or money goal or to eat 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 incentivize them if they need extra encouragement.
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?
Related: Ways how to be the best parent
How can GoHenry help?
GoHenry 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 allowance 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 allowance 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.