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Goal Setting with Kids

We all know that goal setting is the best way to achieve the things we dream. But did you know that, according to Gail Matthews’ Goal Research Summary, people who actually write down their goals are 20% more likely to be successful? And adults aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this simple step of writing things down. Kids have goals, too, but how often are they encouraged to figure out actionable ways to achieve them?


  • Begin by talking to your child about what they like and are interested in. You might already have some ideas, but let them lead this conversation. Having a clear and personal motivation for goals is the best way to stick with them. Help get them inspired by talking about food, music, movies, toys, stories, clothing, places – remind them that inspiration can come from anywhere and that goals are personal. Even if they don’t make sense to anyone else, if it sparks a passion or joy in them, it’s a worthwhile goal! For example, one of my goals this year was to eat more cake. Nothing is too big or too small to consider!

  • Ask them specifically if there’s anything they want to do in the next year. Remind them how old they’ll be, if there are any milestones coming up, or if your family has any plans that might have a tangential project for them. Encourage them to start making a list if they see something that looks cool – when you drive by the indoor Skydiving place or Tae Kwon Do studio or any number of kids activities in Sarasota – these are things they can put on their list of things to try.

  • Create a Bucket List. A child’s bucket list will certainly be different from an adult’s, and that’s OK! It will help narrow down what’s important to them at this moment in their life, and clarify what kind of goals they might like to make for the upcoming year to get closer to some of those things.

  • Create a Ta-Da List. Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, talk about the concept of writing a ta-da list as a way to get motivated by seeing all the things you’ve already accomplished. If your child gets really stuck, this can be a great way to look back at all the things they’ve already done. Remember, nothing is too small – include new foods they’ve tried, big projects they excelled at, and scary things they’ve taken on!

  • Narrow it down to THREE. I know this sounds impossible, especially if you’ve been hit by a tsunami of inspiration. But choosing just three very specific, action oriented goals to focus on in the next year will make it feel doable. Make sure they’re measurable, so your child can say, “Yes, I achieved that goal” or “No, I’m not done yet.”

  • Now write them down! This is so important, because life gets busy and it’s hard to remember what you were doing at the beginning of the year. Have you child write them down and hang them up somewhere they will see them. Revisiting them once a month would be helpful, but if that’s not something your family has time for, just having them visible will be a little trigger for your child’s brain.

  • Finally, remember that goals can change! Sometimes we hit roadblocks or we transcend those goals for something even better. Remind your child that if they’ve lost motivation for a certain goal, it’s OK to change it.

Do you set goals with your children each year? What kinds of goals do you think would be most helpful to assist your child to success? Share your ideas with us!

Originally featured on Kivity.com 1/4/22

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