Out of the Mouths of Babes
What is your New Year’s Resolution, Mom? This is the question my 9-year-old posed to me yesterday – which made me pause to even wonder why a 9-year-old would contemplate this goal-setting tradition. So I did what any parent who isn’t prepared with an answer might do – I turned the question to him: What is your resolution for the New Year?
To have less greed in my heart.
Well – that makes my original answer that was floating around in my head of keeping caught up on laundry seem pretty low on the priority pole. Anything short of saving the world was going to seem pretty petty in comparison to my 9-year-old’s resolution. So now I tried what any homeschooling parent might do – turn this into a lesson for both of us about goal setting and goal keeping. It is probably the biggest failure for resolutions (any time of the year) that we don’t have a plan for keeping the goal. So when I looked into the cherub face of my son, I wanted to find a way to help him keep his goal, as well as to help me set some goals – and keep them – even if they are just about the laundry.
Printable Tools for Helping Kids (and Moms) Set and Reach Goals
Making S.M.A.R.T. Goals
For a small community college, the Maine Community College System has some big ideas about goal setting. They use an acronym for goal setting – SMART – that is easy for adults and kids to remember.
Specific – Our goals should be about something specific – an action or an event.
Measurable – There should be a way to measure the success of the goal.
Achievable – We should be able to achieve the goals if we have enough resources.
Realistic – Our goal should have a realistic likelihood of success.
Timely – There should be a specific timeframe for reaching the goal.
Using this SMART model, I developed this worksheet for my son and me to work through together for our goals. It is one thing to want to have less greed in our hearts, or just to keep the mountain of dirty laundry to a maximum height above sea level, but it is another all-together to actually plan ways to succeed. He can’t just summon the powers that changed the Grinch’s heart, and I won’t be sending children out in 10 degree weather in just shorts and tee-shirt because it involves smaller loads of laundry.
More Steps for Reaching Goals
Teaching kids to set and reach goals can be both one of the most challenging things for parents, and one of the most rewarding. It is why we sometimes turn to behavior and goal charts, why we are constantly striving to teach them to plan ahead, think about their futures, and make positive choices.
When it comes to the youngest ones in our family, goal setting and reaching can be a difficult concept to convey. They live on dreams of becoming an astronaut who will travel to all of the planets (in a week) – so making and keeping a goal of learning how to play the guitar can seem almost mundane to them. However, for our kids, these goals are just as reasonable as any other they could set. We don’t have to rain on their parades with constant doses of reality checks, but we can help them learn to break down their goals into reasonable steps. We want them to reach for the stars, but we need to make sure they are equipped for the ride.
- Help your kids shoot for the stars with this printable worksheet. They can use small star stickers to mark each step their rocket achieves until they reach their ultimate goal.
- Print this simple ladder worksheet and have your kids label each step they need to reach their goal.
- Acknowledge the steps your kids are taking to reach goals. I can see you are working hard to reach your goal of finishing that book because I see you reading 10 pages each day.
- Remind your kids that it is OK to readjust goals when you realize you might have missed some important steps along the way.
- Use this printable visual reminder for your kids about what their goal is, and the steps they need to take along their way.
To have less greed in my heart. Somewhere along the way one of my parenting goals has been coming true – raising children with purposeful hearts. Somehow, though, that mountain of laundry is the bane in my housewife existence! I’ll be reviewing those SMART guidelines for goals to see if I can achieve my resolution of controlling the laundry. Whatever your life, parenting, and personal goals are, I wish you and your family the energy to see those come true in 2013 – Happy New Year!