Teach Your Kids the Importance of Goal Setting

To aid in teaching kids goal-setting, when setting parenting resolutions, the goal should have less focus on short-term behavior and more on long-term results.
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Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
January 16, 2020
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4
Minute Read

What parenting resolutions did you make this year? Many of us make resolutions to be better parents. On top of wanting to better ourselves, we also want to be better for our kids. We vow to stop yelling or to cook more often or to finally be a room mom in our child’s school. These are all good resolutions for 2020, but something we know as a culture about our New Year’s resolutions is they are made to be broken.

According to U.S. News and World Report, 80% of Americans break their resolutions by mid-February. Perhaps you know this to be true because you’ve already broken yours. You snapped at your toddler, you got take-out for dinner again, your demanding work schedule is already proving tricky to balance with all your child’s classroom activities.

Something I’ve seen in parents when they set parenting resolutions is they’re aiming for perfection, and when you aim for perfection, you will inevitably fail. I still think it’s good to have parenting goals but set goals that focus less on short-term behavior and more on long-term results. When you do this, you set a great example for your kids as well. Instead of teaching them that goal setting is all about setting impossible behavioral goals no one can realistically stick to—such as a strict diet—you teach them that goal setting is about the long game. It’s about establishing and growing character, rather than adjusting small behaviors.

When setting your parenting goals for 2020 and teaching your kids to do the same, work toward answering these three questions. These are the questions every child wants his parents to answer.

“What do you believe about me?”

The minute you step into your child’s presence, she is scouring you to try to find out what you think about her. Are you happy, stressed, frustrated? Your child then internalizes her read on you. For example, if you smile at her when she walks in the room, she will interpret that as, “My mom smiled. She’s glad I’m here. She thinks I’m great; therefore, I am great.”

This year, work on being aware of your presence around your child. Whether positive or negative, it is telling her what you believe about her and that is telling her who she is.

When sitting down with your child to set goals, keep this question in mind. What can she do this year that will help affirm what you believe about her? If she is creative, how could you foster that talent in her? If she is compassionate, what kind of service project could you do together? These types of activities will help instill the positive traits you already see in her.

“How do you feel about me?”

Kids need to know that you love them every hour of every day. Does that sound excessive? It’s not.

According to U.S. News and World Report, 80% of Americans break their resolutions by mid-February. Perhaps you know this to be true because you’ve already broken yours. You snapped at your toddler, you got take-out for dinner again, your demanding work schedule is already proving tricky to balance with all your child’s classroom activities.

Something I’ve seen in parents when they set parenting resolutions is they’re aiming for perfection, and when you aim for perfection, you will inevitably fail. I still think it’s good to have parenting goals but set goals that focus less on short-term behavior and more on long-term results. When you do this, you set a great example for your kids as well. Instead of teaching them that goal setting is all about setting impossible behavioral goals no one can realistically stick to—such as a strict diet—you teach them that goal setting is about the long game. It’s about establishing and growing character, rather than adjusting small behaviors.

When setting your parenting goals for 2020 and teaching your kids to do the same, work toward answering these three questions. These are the questions every child wants his parents to answer.

“What do you believe about me?”

The minute you step into your child’s presence, she is scouring you to try to find out what you think about her. Are you happy, stressed, frustrated? Your child then internalizes her read on you. For example, if you smile at her when she walks in the room, she will interpret that as, “My mom smiled. She’s glad I’m here. She thinks I’m great; therefore, I am great.”

This year, work on being aware of your presence around your child. Whether positive or negative, it is telling her what you believe about her and that is telling her who she is.

When sitting down with your child to set goals, keep this question in mind. What can she do this year that will help affirm what you believe about her? If she is creative, how could you foster that talent in her? If she is compassionate, what kind of service project could you do together? These types of activities will help instill the positive traits you already see in her.

“How do you feel about me?”

Kids need to know that you love them every hour of every day. Does that sound excessive? It’s not.

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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