21 Jan 5 SMART Goals Every Child Should Aim to Accomplish in the New Year
It’s January. Time to start anew. New Year’s resolutions are a great opportunity for you and your child to reflect on the past year and communicate about areas where there might room for improvement.
Making New Year’s goals provides the opportunity for children to understand the notion of self-discipline as well as reflect on the importance of setting goals.
When setting goals, it is important to help your child understand the notion of attainable goals. An easy way to help them understand this idea is to use the concept of SMART goals. This means goals must be:
S – specific, significant,
M – measurable, meaningful,
A – achievable, action-oriented,
R – realistic, rewarding,
T – timely, and trackable
Having SMART goals increases the likelihood that children will be able to create attainable goals, have a “game plan,” and be successful. It is easy for children to lose focus or be easily discouraged if their goals are too long-term or not age-appropriate, so make sure to have a discussion regarding the goal-setting process to help your children.
Allow your child to generate ideas on her own. You may need to help by asking questions to ensure the goals are SMART, but be careful not to discredit or minimize your child’s ideas.
Instead, praise your child for their creativity and self-determination. Then begin to ask questions such as “how can we be more specific?” or “Do you think that is enough time to make that happen?”
Make resolutions together. This is a great way to ensure your child will stay motivated. Knowing he has someone on his side will provide a sense of support and positive reinforcement. When parents are able to model positive behaviors, children feel comforted and are likely to continue repeating the positive behaviors. Encourage your child by periodically following up.
Notice that your child is not following through?
Avoid punishment. Rather, ask what is getting in the way in order to help problem-solve and develop ways to eliminate barriers to success. Take the time to acknowledge successes and provide positive verbal reinforcement.
Regardless of whether the praise is big or small, it can do wonders for a child’s self-esteem and is likely to encourage the child to continue repeating that behavior.
Consider these 5 ideas when setting goals for the New Year:
- Use Positive self-talk. Every child can benefit from believing in oneself and minimizing statements such as “I can’t” or ” that’s too hard.” Positive self-talk involves a personal “mantra” or phrase that your child can use when she begins to doubt herself.
- Reconnect. This means disconnecting from electronics and engaging face-to-face with family and friends.
- Do something without being told. This might be helping around the house, setting the table for family dinner, keeping a tidy bedroom, or cleaning up his/her toys.
- Learn something new. This can be a new skill, exploring a new sport or hobby, and even trying something new or challenging at school.
- Reserve “junk food” for special occasions. Encourage your child to incorporate a new healthy food into his/her diet or try a new fruit or vegetable.
Setting New Year’s resolutions can be both fun and purposeful. Consider ways to make this a family ritual each year and find ways to encourage one another throughout the year. Often times, New Year’s resolutions can fizzle out after a few months. It is important to not only set goals,but to show children to persevere in challenging moments and find opportunities to recharge and remain dedicated to the original goal.
North Shore Family Services is a team of skilled and approachable therapists that help parents, children, teens, adults, and couples reduce anxiety and stress, learn effective problem-solving techniques, and manage emotions and behaviors that inhibit personal, school, family, and relationship success. We make therapy a productive, engaging and relaxing place for everyone to work hard and make the improvements they desire. To find the right-fit therapist for you and your family, visit our clinician’s page.