Tara Bone, contributing writer 



A new year should mean new goals for the entire family, right? The benefits of goal setting for children and teens is a popular topic among experts and educators and is all the buzz in news, social media, and even some religious settings. But have you sat down with an 8-year-old boy or a resistant teenager to discuss … gulp, “goals?”

I’ve had the pleasure multiple times; with little success. Usually I get a blank stare followed by, “are we done yet?” shortly after we start. I thought I was alone in my failures to jump start motivated, goal-oriented kids, until other discouraged parents assured me I wasn’t.

I went to work gathering resources to help parents conquer the goal battles of 2022. Below are some goal-setting tips and tricks for children and teens. Keep in mind that every child is different, so if one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t give up on efforts to help your child learn a life-long skill that will reap countless rewards down the road. Research has proven that children and teens who learn how to set and accomplish any size goal develop stronger self confidence and improved decision making skills.

According to Education World, there are six keys to successful goal setting at any age:
1. Write clear and measurable goals.
2. Create a specific action plan for each goal.
3. Read goals daily and visualize accomplishment.
4. Reflect on progress to evaluate progress.
5. Revise action plans if needed.
6. Celebrate accomplishments.

Decide how your child wants to write down and track goals. Take into consideration their personality. If you have a teen that uses a phone frequently, use a goal app. There are countless apps, books, and free worksheets available online to help track goals. Some favorites are:

Electronic Trackers
• Lifetick; only available through a web browser
• Strides (not available for Android)
• Atracker

Books and online helps
Charts4Kids.com offers reward charts and parenting tips
Biglifejournal.com; mindfulness and goal-focused journals for kids and teens plus parenting helps
Verywellfamily.com; articles on a variety of parenting topics

Be consistent!
• Meet one-on-one consistently to check progress. Some parents do the same day and time each week for a goal review. This can be informal and fun.

Make the approach fun
• Take your child out for ice cream or a favorite activity and introduce whatever goal tracker system you’re going to use. Find a variety of goal-setting activities at cachevalleyfamilymagaine.com. Some include Interest Mapping, “Wheel of Fortune,” and vision boards.
• For younger children use visible charts and/or ongoing activities such as a family bucket list to teach goal setting (see cachevalleyfamilymagazine.com for bucket list tips). Use rewards for goal accomplishment.

Watch for opportunities to match interests with goal setting any time of the year.
• It doesn’t have to happen just at the beginning of the year. When goals are accomplished, celebrate them and make more!

Make sure it’s their goal, not yours. If they don’t buy into it and believe it; they won’t accomplish it. Period.
Be supportive of their interests. After they’ve met goals in areas of their interest, help them then find value in other areas, such as schoolwork.
Wait for the right time. Don’t bombard them with goal-setting glory when they’ve had a bad day or are ticked about taking out the trash.
Encourage goals they are in control of. Making a team or even earning a grade is sometimes out of their control. Instead make goals targeted and specific, such as turn in every math assignment on time during winter semester.
Help them see a benefit to their goal. For example, “I want to earn my driver’s license so I’m not at home all the time.”
Teach it’s OK to change a goal as needed. It’s a good life lesson to demonstrate how they can be adaptable and flexible, while still staying committed.