Goal Setting – Tips to Help Kids Set and Achieve Goals

By Michael Klinkner, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Research shows that setting goals – and really sticking to them – can help accelerate success and personal growth. Whether it is to get better grades, limit screen time, or master a skill or hobby, setting goals not only measures where we are currently in our lives, but also helps create the future we want.

Goal setting has distinct benefits for people of all ages too – including kids and teens. Here are four easy steps to setting goals, you and your child can make for a year of success.

  1. Talk it out. Have a discussion with your child to learn more about their goals for the year ahead. Start by chatting about the things they would like to tackle this year. Maybe they want to focus on improving their grades, increasing volunteer efforts in the community or developing their skills on the court or field – focus on whatever is important to your child. Talk about goals for the whole family, too, and how your kids fit into reaching those goals. This can include spending more quality time together by taking a family vacation, decluttering the house by donating items to those in need, or eating at home more.
  2. Ask lots of questions. Prompt your child by asking specific questions. For example, if they want to go on vacation, find out where, when and what they want to do when you get there. If their goal is to get better grades, what can they do to achieve that objective? If the plan is to be better organized, what are the steps it takes to achieve that?
  3. Be S.M.A.R.T. with your goals. Once your kids have determined their goals, help them make their goals actionable with the S.M.A.R.T. acronym.
  • Specific: The resolution should include your child’s goal, the skill they are working on and how they can achieve it.
  • Measurable: Help your child track their progress – you can use a chart, a notebook or have them check in with you periodically.
  • Attainable: The goal can be ambitious, but it should also be realistic. Aim for something that allows your child to grow without overwhelming them.
  • Relevant: Encourage your child to reflect on why the goal is important to them, how achieving it will help them grow as a human and, lastly, how it will contribute to larger goals in the future.
  • Time-bound: Your child’s goal should include a reasonable timeframe and smaller goals along the way to keep them motivated.
  1. Acknowledge success and encourage growth. Many goals take a long time to come to fruition. As a parent, recognize and celebrate when your child is making strides toward their goals. This reinforcement will help encourage kids to keep pursuing their ambitions.

The biggest thing a parent can do to help their child stick with their goals is to celebrate the wins. Don’t wait for them to complete the objective to celebrate. Any time your child takes a step toward meeting their goal, make sure to praise them. Also, tell your child when you are making progress on your own personal goals. This role modeling will help encourage your child to make strides toward their own ambitions.

Michael Klinkner is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Neurolinguistic Programming. He is also certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Klinkner provides individual, group and family therapy to children, adolescents and adults in Central Phoenix and Gilbert, Ariz. Klinkner focuses on treating a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, trauma and ADHD. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/michaelklinknercounseling/ or https://instagram.com/michael_klinknercounseling