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How setting goals can help your children

If your kids play team sports, they understand the concept of goals.  There is an objective to achieve, a time-frame to achieve it in and a number of ways to get that all-important goal.  So how can you help them to transfer that knowledge to other aspects of their lives?

There is plenty of evidence that people who are goal-oriented achieve more, earn more and experience higher levels of success in life.  So teaching your kids about working towards goals is a life skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Don’t start with a blank sheet

If you ask any child (or adult, for that matter) ‘What do you want out of life?’, most people find it hard to get their heads around a huge blank sheet.  It’s overwhelming.

However, if you start with a subject area, it provides a jumping off point.  E.g.

  • What sports activity to you want to learn – or improve your skills in? 
  • What does success look like? 

That might be getting on the school football team, or achieving a green belt in a martial art or being able to swim 100 metres within a certain time.

  • What material items do you want to own? 

This might be a new smartphone, a tablet, sports kit, toys, shoes, clothes or other items. 

  • How much will you need to afford them? 
  • How will you get that money – get a part-time job, do extra chores to earn more pocket money or allowance, start a small business (it’s never too early!)?

What educational achievements do you want? 

  • Higher grades? 
  • Success in specific exams? 
  • A place at your first choice university? 
  • GCSEs? 
  • A-levels? 
  • A diploma in a particular subject?

You get the idea – as they get older the subject areas can include financial, career, domestic and travel goals, among others.

Turning a dream into a goal

There is a saying ‘A goal is a dream you’re prepared to action on’. 

Knowing what you want is only half the equation.  Once you know what you want, the route to achieving your goal depends on two issues:

  1. Specific details
  2. An action plan

The more detailed the goal, the easier it is to achieve.  There’s a big difference between:

‘I want to get good grades in my GCSEs’


‘I want to get A grades in Maths, Physics and Chemistry and at least a B in English Language, English Literature, Biology, Geography and French.  I don’t want to fall below a C in any subject.’

‘Good’ doesn’t really mean anything – some people consider a pass ‘good’!

Add a deadline to the detail and it establishes a cut-off date. 

With GCSEs the exams provide the deadline, but if your child’s goal is to achieve a green belt, no deadline means that the achievement can be pushed back indefinitely.  If the current belt is yellow, then getting a green belt may by only a couple of grades up – what is

a reasonable time-frame to achieve that?

Then there’s the action plan.  You can’t ‘do’ a goal, you need to break it down into a to-do list.  When there are many small tasks, it gets a lot easier and much more achievable. 

Leaping from beginner to Olympic contender in gymnastics can be too big a step for any youngster to get their head around.  However, if you break this down into attending classes twice a week, getting private lessons, achieving certificates at specific levels by certain dates, the path looks a lot easier to see.  Do get them involved in doing the research into what they need to do to get to the next level too.

Make sure the action plan/to-do list is somewhere they see it daily and encourage them to cross things off the list as they do them.  There’s nothing as motivating as seeing your progress in black and white!

Is your child ready to become a high achiever?