Setting Goals for Children to Keep them Motivated
In the United Kingdom, we are starting week ten of lockdown. Some measures are relaxing, others are staying in place. Numbers are starting to look better. But things are not going to go back to normal straight away. Schools are preparing to implement measures to ensure the containment of the virus, and kids are going to find a very different world there than the one they left when they went to school last. Changes, new social measures, everything can be quite stressful and it’s going to be hard for them to be motivated. As adults, we are getting sidetracked and distracted by the current situation, and there is nothing wrong with that, but you might find that it’s affecting our mental health in a negative way. If it’s like that for us, who have fully formed nervous systems, what it must be like for children. Motivation to move forward regardless of the circumstances could be key to preserve their spirits, and one of the ways to do that is by setting goals for our children.
A Bit about why I Write
I’ve created stories every since I can remember. Being an only child, having a vivid imagination was a survival must. Long before I knew anything about writing. Long before I even liked reading books, I made up stories in my head. Now, some were related to playing with character toys, dolls, etc, but others were, essentially, role playing.
I particularly loved the old movies about Greek Mythology and legends. Excalibur was a movie I watched often with my mum, and Arthurian legends hold a dear place in my heart, which is why King Arthur will have an important role, later on, in Maven’s and Perry’s adventures.
With that sort of background, as you can imagine, the leap to Lord of the Rings was only a matter of time. It was my father, this time, who hooked me into this one, and bought the books for me. I’m not going to lie, it took me ages to finish the first book. And I mean ages, but I read it all nonetheless, and loved it.
But I lived in Spain, at the time, and YA literature wasn’t what it is now. Harry Potter was published in 1997, and later on went to originate the rebirth of children’s literature, but we didn’t hear about it in Spain until a few years after it was first printed in the UK. What I want to say is that it was hard to find other books to fall in love with for me, at that age and in that context.
So, what was the next best thing? Write your own stories! Skip forward twenty-five years, now I’m a writer.
Setting Goals for Children
The key, for me, was goals.
For years, I dabbled, with the writing. I did it, or I didn’t. Even though I promised I’d do it. I started projects and never finished it. It was the same with many other things. I started a knitting project and left it half done. I didn’t have any motivation.
But then I took it seriously, and the only way I did that is by setting goals.
But setting goals for children might be a bit different than for adults, you might think.
Well, not so different. When told to set goals, we tend to pick SMART goals, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. You can use this system to help your children setting their goals to. You can find SMART goals worksheets for children here.
But there are other important factor when setting goals for children.
Let Them Choose Their Own Goal
There is no point on giving children goals of your own. If you tell your kid he needs to have his room tidied up by dinner time, chaces are it’s going to be a fighting of the will-powers in your home. Rather, discuss if there is anything special they want to do.
Discuss how They are Going to Achieve it
Setting goals for children is important, but then, they need a plan. What are they going to do to get it. This is probably where they are going to need your assistance, as children might come up with the most random plans. Coming up with something feasible is the key for this step.
Break down the Plan in Smaller, Easier Steps
Plans can be very overwhelming, at first. In my case, editing a whole book is quite scary in itself, but I break it up in chunks. This is the same. If they want to save money for something, well, the whole sum might be scary, but if you tell them all they need to do is save £2 a week, it’s more manageable.
Discuss the Obstacles
And life has plenty of those. I’m mean to go to Amsterdam this September and right now there is no way of knowing if it will happen or not. Things happen, and sometimes our plans need to change or be delayed. It’s good to think about what some of those challenges might be and what to do if they do come up.
Discuss the Costs
No, I’m not talking about actual price, but sometimes sacrifices need to be made when it comes to reaching your goals. In general, it’s probably going to be time. Still, it’s important, when setting goals for children, that they learn that, sometimes, you have to give up some things for the things you want.
What to do when They don’t Achieve Their Goals
There is only one thing to do. Try again. Children can be easily discouraged when things go wrong, and I feel, too often, we spend too much time focusing on the problem and not enough discussing the solution. If things didn’t go to plan, it’s good to find out why and what can be done next time to avoid it.
What to do when They Do Achieve Their Goals
Celebrate, of course!