With the beginning of a New Year, it is traditional to ponder the past and consider what you want to improve upon for the upcoming year. If you are like a lot of us parents, figuring out how to inspire your kids to get involved in doing this successfully, can sometimes feel overwhelming and even hopeless.
In working with different families who have many unique needs and personalities, I’ve discovered several approaches that can help defining goals and planning go better – even fun when approached at the right time and in a helpful way. I’ve separated it into two parts: Part I – Setting Resolutions/Goals with Kids and Part II -Setting Resolutions/Goals as a Family.
CHILDREN INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS/GOALS
If you are one of those really fortunate parents who have highly motivated kids who love to set goals and mark off their list as they reach them WHY ARE YOU READING THIS? I’m just kidding! Well, then, the only concern is helping them make realistic goals and time frames. Sometimes, those kids can set themselves up for failure by being perfectionistic and unreasonable in what to accomplish in a given amount of time.
One of the best ways I have found to help all kids set achievable resolutions and goals is through asking questions. It teaches them to think critically about something that will impact them, possibly profoundly. I designed the following questions for school aged children up to adults. You may find you need to adjust or modify them to appropriately fit your specific child’s age:
1. What do you want it to look like in the end? Suggestion:
a. Help them determine what they will get from accomplishing it.
b. What, if any, tangible outcome is there?
2. Describe it in as much detail as possible to get a clear picture. Suggestion:
a. Can you describe how you/it will look once you are finished?
b. What will it feel like when it is completed?
c. Are other people going to be affected? If so, how?
d. What amount of time do you imagine it will take to finish?
e. Continue with as many fact seeking questions as needed to be clear.
3. What steps are needed to make it happen? (Either a change or accomplishment) Suggestion:
a. Break it down backwards from “The end in mind” to “Today.”
b. Where are good quarterly stopping points? (see below)
c. What absolutely has to happen first? (revisit this question frequently)
4. Do you need help from an outside source, if so, who would be a good expert? (If they don’t know – where can they go to look one up?)
5. What will the small measurable accomplishments look like so the child will know they are making progress and not get discouraged?(build in hope and self-concept building steps)
6. What will the child do to get back on track if something happens? (like an illness, accident, or perhaps this is the thing they are working on) Suggestions:
a. Have a buddy work on the same resolution/goal
b. Have an adult mentor (someone the child has a good relationship with) check in on a regular agreed upon basis.
7. Suggest the child make quarterly reviews part of the process to reevaluate the resolution/goal to assess if it is still appropriate to work on. Suggested questions:
a. Have I seen progress?
b. Do I feel a sense of accomplishment around my efforts?
c. What are the benefits if I continue?
d. What have I learned about myself so far?
e. Will I get the results I described in the beginning if I stay the course?
f. What other benefits might come of this process?
8. Who does the child want to report progress to for the benefit of learning accountability? Suggestions (It should be someone the child chooses and has a good relationship with so they will voluntarily report):
a. Parent b. Teacher c. Goal Buddy d. Church leader e. Friend
9. How does he/she want to track that progress? Suggestions (Kids need to give their input on this or they generally won’t use the system.):
a. List b. Journal c. Computer program d. Variety of programs depending on resolution/goal
10. When the time frame has elapsed, what will be the ultimate determining factor of success? Suggestion:
a. This may be effort b. This may be consistence c. This may be amount of small goals accomplished
If you happen to have a child who may lean toward procrastination, gets anxious, and/or easily overwhelmed and then checks out, you may want to save this question for the half way or three-quarter check-in. Success, for those individuals, usually requires carefully breaking down the goal into small, daily, “do-able” acts, which become much more powerful tools for accomplishing their goals.
I wish you all the joy the New Year has to offer and success in setting and achieving your resolutions or goals. May I leave you with one more thought? I am blessed to be the Nana of twelve beautiful, amazing grandchildren, who teach me so much about living in the present and taking joy in the moment! My thought is this – take time to ponder deeply on what is really important, what you truly desire to change. Choose only one or two and focus on how you can make those positive changes. Set the intention to do so, begin with the end in mind, follow the steps and you will see a miraculous change occur it – begins inside your heart, and grows outward until it manifests into that intention you set.
Find the joy in each moment and make a gift of the present.
Sending you peace and love,