Goal setting is an important skill at any age, so if you can encourage your kids to set SMART goals early you’ll set them up with important planning skills for life. SMART goals get kids into the habit of creating achievable goals. This guide will help you set those goals with them at whatever age they’re at.
What are SMART goals?
You may have heard the phrase before, but here’s a recap. SMART goals are:
Explaining SMART goals to your kids mostly relies upon asking these questions about their goals. Is it specific, how will you measure it, can you achieve it realistically, and how long will it take? You can use real-world examples that are relevant to them, such as explaining their Wealthify junior ISA or exams they might sit soon.
Tips for SMART goal setting with children
Setting and achieving goals isn’t easy, but setting short-term and long-term goals is important for children’s personal development. Meaningful, achievable goals help children with decision making, encourage perseverance, and will improve their confidence and independence.
Here are some ways you can help your kids set and achieve their SMART goals:
Let them take the lead. You may have hopes for what sort of goals your kids will set themselves, but try not to influence them too much. They will be more motivated by goals they can identify for themselves, though you can certainly help them figure out what goals they have.
Set goals together. Goal-setting isn’t just important for kids. When setting goals with your kids, lead by example and set some of your own too.
Talk about the how as well as the what. Once goals are set, it’s important to talk about how they will be achieved. This will cover how attainable, realistic, and time-bound the goal is and ensure the goal can and will be met.
Write down their goals. Writing down your goals makes them feel more concrete and achievable. Make writing down goals a part of your goal-setting exercise with your kids. These free goal-setting printables are great for kids to write down their goals on and they have lots of different printables based on what sort of goals your kids are setting.
Display their goals. Another important step that will make goals feel more concrete and give your kids additional motivation is to display them in your home. You can put their goal-setting sheets on the fridge, on the wall beside their bed, or over their desk so they can be reminded of their goals and how they plan to achieve them.
Once your child has a general idea of what they want to achieve, it’s time to help them identify their strengths. This will help them focus on areas where they are already good and make it more likely that they will be successful in achieving their goals. There are a number of different ways to identify your child’s strengths. One option is to use a brief strengths test that typically asks children questions about their interests, skills, and abilities. The results of the test can help you and your child identify areas where they are strong. Another option is to simply talk to your child about their strengths. Ask them what they are good at and what they enjoy doing. Pay attention to the things that seem to come naturally to them and that they enjoy doing without getting bored or frustrated. Once you have a good understanding of your child’s strengths, you can start to help them set SMART goals that are aligned with those strengths.
Support and celebrate. Positive reinforcement is great for kids and for sticking to and achieving our goals. Giving your kids plenty of positive support and praise as they work towards their goals, especially the small steps at the beginning, is essential. Check-in regularly over the months to come and support kids if they are struggling to reach their goals. And once they do reach them, be sure to celebrate.