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How to Help Your Child Reach Goals

Help Your Child Set Goals and achieve them

It's fun for your kids to imagine the amazing things they might achieve someday – get a scholarship, develop their own line of clothes, become a tennis pro. But are they doing anything right now to make their dreams come true?

There's no better time than the New Year to help your kids become real goal-getters. Anyone can learn to set goals. And research shows that kids who set goals:

  • Feel better about themselves.
  • Have increased motivation.
  • Get better grades.
  • Are more satisfied with their lives.

Here are 10 tips to help your kids get on the goal-setting track and into the fast lane to reaching their dreams:

1. Make them SMART. Make sure your kids' goals are:

  • Savvy – Easy to understand and meaningful to them.
  • Measurable – Define exactly what they want to accomplish.
  • Active – Tell them what action they need to take.
  • Reachable – Realistic, based on their skills and experience.
  • Timed – Have a clear date when they'll be able to say, "I did it."

Not-so-SMART Goal: "Be the best basketball player on the team."

SMART Goal:"Improve my shot percentage by 20 percent by practicing one hour on Saturdays and Sundays during the season."

Not-so-SMART Goal: "Feel better about myself."

SMART Goal:"Eat healthier by bringing my lunch to school four days a week instead of eating at fast-food restaurants."

Not-so-SMART Goal: "Get an A+ in math."

SMART Goal:"Boost my math grade by at least one letter by the end of the semester."

Not-so-SMART Goal: "Get a new bike."

SMART Goal:"Buy a new bike by 2011."

1. Write them down. Have your kids write their goals and the date by which they want to achieve them on a piece of paper. Have them post it in their locker, on the computer, on the refrigerator or somewhere else they'll see it often.

2. Think positively. Attitude is everything when it comes to your kids' future success. Help them make a list of their good qualities, remember compliments and appreciate what they have. And remember to practice what you preach. If your kids see you with a can-do attitude, they'll be more likely to think positively.

3. Find time. Help your kids cut down on time wasters, like watching TV, surfing the Internet or talking on the phone, so they can free up time to focus on their goal.

4. Take 10. Set a kitchen timer or stopwatch for 10 minutes and encourage your kids to use that time to work on their goals. They may find themselves motivated to keep working on their goal even after the 10 minutes are up.

5. Give a reward. When your kids take a step toward their goal, reward them with a movie, their favorite meal, a weekend off from their chores or another incentive that will keep them motivated.

6. Visualize success. Minds produce what they dwell on. If your kids see themselves reaching their goals with ease, they'll be far more likely to succeed. Ask your kids questions at dinner or while carpooling to get them talking about their goals.

7. Set "anti-deadlines." These are the opposite of rewards. Have your kids tell themselves, "If I don't do it by 5 p.m. I can't go out with my friends tonight."

8. Ask for help. Let your kids know they don't have to do it alone. Believe it or not, people in their lives (family, friends, teachers, coaches) will want to help in whatever ways they can. Do your part to help, as well. Offer to introduce them to a role model or take them on a field trip to learn more about a career in which they're interested.

9. Be a role model. Incorporate goal setting in your daily life. Talk to your kids about your goals and the steps you take to accomplish them. If your kids see you following through on your commitments, they'll be more likely to do the same.

Conversation Starters

To get your kids thinking – and talking – about goals, try these conversation starters:

  • What matters to you more than anything else?
  • Which of your dreams gets you really inspired?
  • If you could do anything, what would it be? Why?
  • What's the biggest goal you ever reached? What was the key to your success?
  • How do you feel when you achieve a goal?

Success Starters

While achieving goals often requires hard work, the process should be fun. Have your kids try these fun-raisers to jumpstart their success.

  • Get pumped up. Have your kids find someone they can count on to feed their ego when they need an emergency pick-me-up. Sometimes just hearing someone say "I believe in you" is enough to get them through the tough times.
  • Throw a pity party. Encourage your kids to invite their friends over for a pity party. Have each person designate a set amount of time during which he or she can complain, moan and groan to the others. When that person's time is up, move on by encouraging each other to get back on track.
  • Be a blabber mouth. Encourage your kids to spread the word to their friends and family. Telling others what they intend to accomplish will help hold them to their word.
  • Try it on for size. Just like they try on a new pair of jeans before buying them, have your kids try on their goals for size. If they want to be a singer, have them create a cover for their debut CD.

Your kids are unstoppable as long as they keep taking the next step. Why wait one more day for them to begin? Get goaling!

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