Parenting : How to Develop Goal Setting in Kids


My earlier post on 5 Ways Parents Can Develop Leadership Skills In Children talks about the importance of goal setting as one of the ways to cultivate leadership skills in your child. This post will talk about how to work with goal setting with your child

“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, how I wonder what you are,

Up above the wall so high, like a diamond in the sky.”

So many times we have sung this to our baby. As infants, its just a lullaby for them. But as they grow into toddlers, they start looking at the stars and asking you “Why are they so high, can I get one too?”.

As they grow, they start dreaming and dreams keep getting bigger. And they come to you with their big and small questions. Probably you are the first one, they discuss their dreams with and you as a parent so want to make their dreams come true. You see them try and try and sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes you might that your young chap is so intelligent but he is not willing to concentrate on his studies or may be your little girl wants to try too many things at the same time. Sometimes, as parents, we feel our little one is isn’t trying  hard enough to succeed. Or where we can help to make their task simpler.

However, we need to understand that it’s their task and it’s their dream to achieve. We can surely help them, but can’t live their dreams for them. So here is something we can teach them to help them achieve their dreams or even move closer by a step.

Let them decide what their goal is: “Mama, I want to become the class monitor this month.” Let them decide where they want to reach rather than you telling them what their goal should be. Let them decide if it is feasible for them to reach- do not discourage if you feel it is an impossible goal, but let them start and decide for themselves if it can be achieved or not. Do not get angry if they choose to do something different from what you have thought or do not pester them to choose your goal.

Let them start with smaller goals: The smallest of goals will lead the way ahead. Let them plan, organize and act. As simple as solving a Rubik’s cube, tell them to plan how to solve a single row before going to solve the entire side. Let them write their goals and the steps to achieve them. According to a study at Harvard, people who write their goals are 80% more successful than those who did not write their goals. See if they are already doing their goal setting like saving pocket money to buy a toy or telling you everyday something your child did for a bigger project.


Let them learn the SMART concept: The SMART concept of goal setting is not only for elders, it is equally relevant and applicable for the young minds.

SPECIFIC: Are their goals specific to something they want to achieve? Eg. Tying shoe lace, so they should try learning tie-in a knot first.

MEASURABLE: How do I measure my success? Eg. If I can tie my own shoe, I will be helping to help mommy or I don’t have to wait for others to tie my shoe or I might not miss my school bus.

ATTAINABLE: Can I achieve my target? Is it realistic? Eg. I am 4 years old, can I learn to tie a knot?

RELEVENT: Is  the goal relevant to me or how will it help me? Eg. Do I need to know hoe to tie my own shoe?

TIME-BOUND: Do their goals have a deadline? Eg. I will learn to tie a knot in one week so that I can tie my own shoe by this month end.

Make your kids SMART.

Do not compare with other’s goals: “Vijay is learning to play football for the sports championship, even you should join him.” Guess your lad doesn’t want to Messi after all. Understand that your son might have something else in mind, he might be gearing for the next chess tournament. Do not compare what others are doing, encourage what your child wants to do. Or even do not compare what other kids are following to reach the same goal, rather discuss with your child, what he/she might be planning.

Reward or Discuss achievement and failure: Make your child aware of the realities of life and the challenges they might have to face to achieve their goal. They need to understand that failure does not mean the end and that they will stop following their goal. If the goal needs changes they need to modify it, but keep trying until they achieve it, if they really want to. Reward their efforts even if they are not successful. Discuss their failure with a positive attitude- where things went wrong and what changes needs to be implemented. Don’t let your child give up on his/her dream.

Studies show that:

  • The probability of completing a goal increases by 10% if you hear about an idea
  •  The probability of completing a goal increases by 25% if you consciously decide to do that goal
  •  The probability of completing a goal increase to 40% if you assign a time to complete that goal
  • The probability of completing any goal increases by 50% if you plan out how you will accomplish your goal
  •  If you commit to someone else that you are going to accomplish a certain goal you’ve just increased the chances of meeting that goal by 65%
  •  If you have a specific accountability appointment to check in on the status of your progress as you reach for your goal that you’ll increase the probability of meeting your goal by 95%

So you know what to do and how to encourage your child to set their goals and achieve them.

Let your child DREAM and you can just sit back and watch their dreams come true because you have instilled the quality of goal setting in them. Because rightly said by Diana Scharf Hunt, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.”

And trust me these are not only for the budding stars in your house but for YOU too. Just read once again and you will, that each and every thing precisely applies to you too.

When your child wants to do something big, you can give them a GOAL SHEET (something as simple as below) and help them achieve their goals.

So next time you dream something or make a New Year Resolution, SET your goal, MAKE a plan, WRITE it down and GET, SET, GO! And even if you do not reach your goal, you will be happy that YOU TRIED.


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