Monday, December 26, 2011

Goal Setting for Kids

I’ve been doing goal setting workshops with my son once a month and they have been working wonders with him so I wanted to share.  I love these workshops because it gives us a chance to talk about his worries and his dreams.  It helps him outline what he wants in his life and empowers him to accomplish his goals.  It also makes him take responsibility for his own actions and for the consequences of his actions. 
1.       The first thing we do is talk about his accomplishments.  First this puts him in a good mood and makes him realize everything he has accomplished.  We talk about what he did to accomplish the good things so he knows what he needs to keep doing.  To me, this starts the conversation on a positive note which will hopefully set the whole tone for the whole workshop.
2.       We talk about his dreams and what he wants for himself in the future.  I find out everything from iPads to making the soccer team to going to college to becoming a millionaire professional baseball player.  I never tell him that anything is out of his reach.
3.       Then we talk about things he can improve on.  The last talk we had I explained that if he wants to be a millionaire he needs to have a college education which means he needs to get good grades.  We also discussed the importance of extracurricular activities on a college application.  We look at his attendance the previous year a decided going to school more often would help him improve his grades.
4.       Then we make a list of the goals we can work on over the next few weeks or months.  I have him choose at least one goal from each of these categories: Academic, Physical, and Financial.  I have a rule that he can’t choose more than five goals altogether because I don’t want him to be overwhelmed.  After our talk he decided that his academic goals would be to get straight A’s on his next report card, he would go to school every day in the month of September, October, and November.  For his physical goal he chose to make the middle school soccer team.  For his financial goal he chose to save $500 by December to start an investment account (He’s been obsessed with creating passive income since we’ve been playing Cash Flow for Kids).
5.       We break each goal into small manageable steps so it’s a lot easier to manage.  For example, to accomplish his goal of making straight A’s he decided to do his homework as soon as he gets home every day.  When he’s done with home work he sets a timer for 15 minutes and finds a way he can learn just a little bit extra or improve on his homework a little bit.  For his goal of going to school every day we made a chart together and check off every day he attends school.  To accomplish his goal of making the soccer team he decided he needs to run for at least 1 mile every day, dribble the ball for 15 minutes every day, and set up some games of soccer with his friends.  To accomplish his goal of saving $500 he started a savings account at the bank, he asked for extra chores around the house that he could get paid for, he saves all of his allowance, he held several lemonade stands with some baked goods, and asked neighbors his he could do some yard work for them.
6.       We set rewards for each goal.  For getting straight A’s he gets a laptop, for each month of going to school without missing he gets to have his three best friends sleep over, for making the soccer team he gets his own cell phone, for starting a $500 investment account I will add $100 to the account.  The key for us was to make the rewards make sense.  He needs a computer for school because a lot of his homework is online so I told him that only a good student needs his own laptop. The cell phone is because his soccer team is a travel team and I’ll need to get in touch with them.
7.       Put it in writing using positive language.  I typed up a contract making sure I outlined what we wanted to happen, not what we didn’t want.  Then he read it aloud to me and we verbally agreed to the contract and signed it.
8.       Track their progress.  I have charts for each goal so that he can check of his progress and see how well he’s doing every day.
9.       Keep it in plain sight.  I put our contract and goal progress charts on the refrigerator as a constant reminder of his goals and his rewards so he can see his goals every day.
So far this has worked miracles with my son.  I used to nag him to go to school every day while he pretended to be sick, now he insists on going to school every day.  I used to nag him to do his homework every night and it took hours to get it finished, now he does it all on his own and it is done perfectly.  He is working so hard because he decided on his own goals and knows exactly what he needs to do to make it happen.  I love having an empowered child!

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At January 31, 2012 at 8:06 PM , Blogger Christi Baham Willie said...

I am a BIG chart person!!! Like this article!!!

At February 1, 2012 at 12:59 AM , Blogger Dani Jones said...

I have been trying to figure out ways to help my children be more independent. I like the contract. I think it would be great for my son. Thanks!


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