Children do not have the ability to focus their attention on one task, but setting goals helps them understand how to complete a task before moving on to the next. This also helps develop their sense of confidence and self-esteem. Therefore, it is important for parents to set goals for their children. However, it is also vital for parents to know how to set realistic goals. Here are some ways to help you set the right goal for your child.
1. Define ‘setting a goal’ to your child: Before you set a goal for your child, explain to him what a goal means and why you intend to set goals for him. Perhaps the definition by John Norcross, researcher, can help you explain it. According to him, a goal is “a mental representation of a desired outcome that a person is committed to.” Going by this definition, setting a goal is all about what an individual wants and how to achieve it. Try to make your child understand this fact with simple examples.
2. Assess your child: It is not possible for you to set realistic goals without taking your child’s capabilities into account. So, observe your child to make a realistic assessment of her abilities and her attitude. It would also be helpful if you can understand what your child’s natural interests are. While making all these assessments, do not forget to take into account your child’s age. Read some books or browse the Internet for materials that will help you realise what children within a specific age range are expected to accomplish. All this will help you understand how to set reasonable targets for your child that are well-aligned with her aptitude as well.
3. Brainstorm with your child: Make your child a stakeholder in the task of setting goals. Discuss the target that you intend to set for him and elicit his opinion on that matter. Answer his questions to clear his doubts, assuage any fears he may have, and reassure him that he can always come back to you with any problems he may face. Involving your child in setting targets helps in multiple ways. Most important of all, it helps you set an achievable target. Also, it makes your child feel self-confident and take his task more seriously.
4. Set short-term goals: Children have shorter attention span. They usually tend to stop doing whatever they are involved in after a short while and move on to a new task. So, start by setting short-term goals that take less time to realise. Being able to achieve short-term goals will keep her motivated and eager to take up the next challenge.
5. Think about the purpose: None of us like to do anything without purpose. It’s the same with children as well. So, when you are thinking about setting a goal for your child to achieve, also think about the different aspects of his personality achieving the target would help develop. So, look at the bigger picture before setting any target for your child.
Working towards achieving a goal can not only be motivating for a child, but may also encourage him to do more than what is expected of him. It will give him an idea about the optimal amount of effort he should put in. Also, it will help him understand that, to be successful in life and stay ahead of the competition, he should set a target for himself and come up with a plan to achieve it.