“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
(A version of this article first appeared in Kingston Neighbours magazine, January, 2022.)
The year 2022 lies ahead of us like a freshly fallen blanket of untouched snow. New beginnings, new possibilities and new adventures await! But do you find that your enthusiastic resolutions fizzle before month-end? You probably also find your kids’ earnest New Year’s promises to clean their rooms regularly or get better grades quickly fall by the wayside too. But 2022 can be different! Here are some resources to help your kids at every stage with effective goal setting.
Early Childhood: Preschool to Grade 5
During their early years, it is most important to help children develop a growth mindset, (as opposed to a fixed mindset), so they learn to persevere when they make mistakes.The go-to book on growth mindset is Carol S. Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and Chapter 7 is entirely dedicated to parents, teachers and coaches and how to help kids develop growth mindsets.
Many picture books also abound with themes of determination and overcoming setbacks, including the classic, The Little Engine That Could, originally published in 1930. More recently published picture books to help your youngsters develop a growth mindset include:
- After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again, by Dan Santat
- The Impossible Mountain, by David Soman
- Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty
- Ruby’s Wish, by Shirin Yim Bridges
- Y Is For Yet, by Shannon Anderson
Middle Years: Grades 6 – 8
By the time they reach middle school, most kids can engage in some abstract reasoning tasks like future planning. The website PositivePsychology.com encourages parents to develop a family ritual of setting New Year’s resolutions at this stage. The website also suggests other fun goal-setting exercises for middle-schoolers, including:
- writing a family bucket list
- creating a vision board
- making an interest map
Books about overcoming adversity will also inspire your middle-schoolers with their own goals:
High School: Grades 9 – 12
As teens move through high school, goal setting begins to shape their future college, university and career options. Therefore, learning to set realistic goals, analyze their performance and reassess strategies are important skills for teens to possess. First developed by George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham for business, the acronym SMART is a useful one for young adults when creating goals:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable, Achievable
R – Relevant
T – Timely
Some great resources to aid and motivate teens in achieving their goals are:
- Be The One: Six True Stories of Teens Overcoming Hardships With Hope, by Byron Pitts
- A Teen’s Guide To Getting Stuff Done, by Jennifer & Doug Shannon
- Soul Surfer, A True Story Of Faith, Family, And Fighting To Get Back On The Board, by Bethany Hamilton
- What Do You Really Want? How To Set A Goal And Go For It!, by Beverly K. Bachel
With practice and encouragement, kids of all ages can set goals, learn from their mistakes and achieve their dreams. Happy New Year, everyone!
- Goal Setting for Students, Kids & Teens, PositivePsychology.com, https://positivepsychology.com/goal-setting-students-kids/.