“I wish…I could shoot the basketball better.”
“I wish…I had enough money to buy that Lego set.”
“I wish” is a phrase I used to hear from my oldest son throughout the day. He wished for a lot of things.
Unfortunately for him, none of those things really started happening for him until we started to help him set goals and work on them a little at a time.
Your family needs to set SMART goals for kids. Parents who teach their kids how to set SMART goals will have kids who achieve SMART goals.
Benefits of goal setting for kids
Kids who set goals are much more likely to achieve them. Kids who set goals:
- Solve problems
- Achieve difficult things in school and other activities
- Are more confident
- Have more grit
What are SMART goals for kids?
Don’t make kids goals complicated. Otherwise, your kids may get overwhelmed or confused and never try to achieve their goals. That’s where SMART goals come in. Setting a SMART goal means choosing a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable/actionable, relevant, and timely. A SMART goal simply allows you to be clear about what you’d like to achieve. For kids, this is going to make things easy for them to understand.
Specific goals say exactly what your goal is. They are clear and concise. Answer the questions who, what, where, why, when, and which.
A measurable goal makes it easy to track your progress. A measurable goal can be put into a chart or graph and you can see how far you’ve come.
An attainable goal is something that you can achieve. It’s not too hard, or too easy.
Relevant goals should be something that you care about. Choose something that is important and worthwhile for you.
Timely goals can be accomplished within a set amount of time. If you don’t give yourself enough time, it will be difficult to accomplish anything. On the other hand, you don’t want to give yourself too much time or you won’t feel motivated to work on your goal.
SMART Goals vs. Non-SMART Goals
After a brief explanation, your child should understand the difference between a smart goal and a non-SMART goal. Take a minute to review some examples of non-SMART goals with your kids. This can help to highlight why each component of a SMART goal is necessary.
For example, “I want to be a good artist” is not a SMART goal because it isn’t specific, measurable, or timely. This process can help them see why it’s important to specify what they really want to do and when.
Your goals for your kids
When you are a parent, it’s easy to see what skills our kids lack. As you are helping your kids set goals, don’t them what goals they need to set. Instead, take some time to brainstorm with your child about:
- Activities they’d like to try
- Skills they want to learn
- Hobbies they want to start or improve
- Things they want to save up to buy
- Areas of their life they want to improve
Spending time assessing the different areas of your child’s life will give them the opportunity to see where they could make SMART goals that are meaningful to them.
Growth and Fixed Mindsets
Unless your child feels like they can improve and change, there is no point in helping them set goals. A fixed mindset tells says that your abilities and skills are fixed. There is no changing or growing. Kids can get stuck in this mindset on occasion when they are struggling with a specific task.
For example: “I am horrible at math!” Fixed thoughts like this come from a child who do not think they can get any better.
On the other hand, a child with a growth mindset might say, “I didn’t do very well on my last math test, but I’ll do better on my next one.” They believe that they can grow and improve.
It’s important to discuss these two mindsets with your kids. Understanding the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset can help your child change negative self-talk and prepare them for growth in the future.
Creating SMART goals
Even after you’ve explained the concept of SMART goals, don’t expect your kids to jump in and set goals on their own. Instead, walk them through the process. Give lots of examples. They may pick or choose their favorites from your examples, but the examples are a good place to start. Help choose goals that will push your child, but not overwhelm them. Once you’ve walked them through the process, help them hang their goals up somewhere they can see them regularly.
Finding a time to follow up
Don’t let goals get forgotten. Set a date to review your child’s SMART goal progress with them. If they know that you will be checking in on their goals, they are more likely to stay accountable to the process.