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Thoughtful Parenting: Identifying goals

“I see myself competing in the Winter Olympics.”

“I see myself studying architecture in London.”

“I see myself earning a black belt in taekwondo.”



Goals. We all know that the beginning of a new year is an especially popular time to spell out our goals: something I desire for the future and am willing to work toward. Have you considered that helping our tweens and teens to set their own healthy, achievable goals is important for their current realities and their future outcomes? If you have never worked through a goal-setting exercise with your children, these steps may help:

• See it: Start with a mental picture in your mind. What do you see yourself doing in the future?



• State it: State something specific you want to do or become to move toward your mental picture.

• Start it: Start by taking the first step toward your goal. Do it!

Many of the students with whom I interact can identify their achievement goals fairly quickly; they know the things that they want to do. Achievement goals do matter. But another type of goal is equally as important and not as common. Character goals describe who I want to be, and those goals matter, too. Interestingly, although most students have not specifically set character goals for themselves, when asked, they easily answer the question, how would you want to be described when you graduate from high school?

“I want to be introduced as someone who is best known for being kind.”

“For being trustworthy.”

“For respecting other people.”

The same steps will help you and your children set character goals, defining the persons they want to be:

• See it: How do you see yourself being in the future?

• State it: State a specific way to develop this trait this year.

• Start ot: What first step can you take now to start toward your goal?

Why does it matter? I think most parents want their children to succeed not only in their careers, but also in life. We want our children to make a difference in their world, to be kind, responsible adults. To avoid unhealthy risks and to choose healthy outcomes.

Choices they are making now are shaping not only what they will do in the future, but also who they will be. A few quiet moments, perhaps over a drink at the coffee shop, with pen and paper or an iPad, will provide the opportunity to answer questions with your child (What do you want to do? Who do you want to be?), then craft an intentional plan to make those goals a reality.

Before you are done, help them set the foundation to accomplish their goals, no matter what obstacles they may face, by finishing this sentence: I am determined to (identify your goal) because (write a reason).

Remembering their motivation will allow your children to make choices that will position them to succeed. Knowing and remembering their goals will also motivate them to avoid the risk behaviors that threaten their well-being, along with their goals.

Melinda Clark is the CEO of Selah, the mother of five incredibly valuable young people, and a cross-cultural communicator. Selah is committed to promote whole-person health and thriving futures for young people in our community through education, mentorship, community partnerships and medical services.


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