For young children, goal setting is primarily practice for when they get older with some added benefits. Setting and achieving goals builds motivation and self-esteem. And getting into the habit of setting goals and seeing them through at a young age makes a person more likely to continue to do so into adulthood.
There are many goals that can serve those purposes. While ending world hunger would be a wonderful thing for a child to do, kids’ goals do not have to be that ambitious to be beneficial to them. A goal as simple as saving enough money to go to the zoo is good for your child.
Starting Out Small Is a Good Thing
For young children or ones who have never set goals before, it is a good idea to start out small. A child’s first goals should not be extremely challenging. It is best if they can be achieved in a few weeks at most.
When your child achieves those first few goals, making a big deal out of it provides positive reinforcement. She may not be changing the world, but it doesn’t hurt to praise her as though she were.
Tackling these initial small goals will give your child a sense of achievement and get her ready to take on progressively larger ones. Just be sure to consider whether a goal is age-appropriate. If it’s not, suggest something similar but on a smaller scale.
What if My Child Wants to Change the World Anyway?
Some kids are determined to reach big goals. If this describes your child, talk to her about what reaching the goal she has in mind would entail. Children often do not realize how difficult it will be to attain a large goal.
Once you’ve convinced her to rethink the large goal, help her come up with a similar but smaller one. For example, maybe she wants to buy coats for all of the children who don’t have one. Some more attainable goals might be to buy a coat for one child in need or gather up clothes that she has outgrown and donate them to Goodwill.
If a child has lofty goals and insists on holding onto them, try to at least help her break them down into smaller ones. Then she can work on one piece at a time. Keeping a list of the smaller goals and checking them off as she achieves them can help her remember that she is making progress.
Kids’ goals usually aren’t achievements that make a big difference in the scheme of things. Yet setting and attaining them can set patterns that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. That’s why it is important to encourage goal setting, no matter how small the goal.