With New Year’s around the corner, it’s a great time to talk to your child about creating meaningful goals. Goal setting is a rewarding habit to start at an early age.---

It teaches responsibility for one’s own actions, behavior and achievements, promotes the use of “growth mindset,” and can help form a beneficial practice of goal-setting. Steps to helping your child set a meaningful and attainable goal:

It teaches responsibility for one’s own actions, behavior and achievements, promotes the use of “growth mindset,” and can help form a beneficial practice of goal-setting. Steps to helping your child set a meaningful and attainable goal:

Let them choose the main goal / big idea.

Chosen goals are the most motivating for children and help promote responsibility for their actions and success.

Talk about the “Why?”

Discuss why working on and reaching this goal will be helpful for the child and/or others in the future. Consider questions like,“How will you feel when you reach this goal and why?” Or, “What will be the best part of reaching this goal?”

Predict future obstacles

Talk with your child about what challenges may cross his or her path to reaching their goal. Brainstorm answers to how he or she will persevere when this happens, what they can tell themselves using positive, “growth-mindset” language, and how problem solving challenges may help them learn better.

Break down the steps

Large goals can seem overwhelming. Break down the main goal into small, attainable goals. Tips to breaking down these tasks include: Use a goal calendar: it helps one to know “What small goal do I have for today, and what’s coming up?” and foresee their future success.

Track progress using visual goal setting

Use a visual like a goal ladder, thermometer, or roadmap where children can fill in their progress. Sticker/motivation charts can also work!

Use the “2-minute rule”

If your child needs some help with getting started with working on a goal, start small and set a goal to work for 2 minutes on a task. Once someone is “in the swing of” progressing on their goal, they’re more motivated to continue!

Celebrate not just the destination, but the journey too!

Acknowledging the hard work and effort put into the goal along the way instead of focusing on the success of the end goal promotes perseverance and confidence! If your child wants to give up you can provide examples of overcoming struggles at their age, promote positive self-talk, and praise how they’ve improved so far - focusing on how to learn to improve from setbacks.

Katie Engh, COTA/L