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How to Set Goals with Your Children in 2021

Happy New Year! 2021 is here. After going through a challenging year, it's time to hit the reset button, set some goals, and follow through with some actions. Goal setting seems simple, but there are ways to maximize its effect so that it doesn't fall apart by the third week of January. In this post, I will discuss some questions to ask your children to set practical goals.

When I was teaching, one of the activities I did with my class on the first day of school was setting goals. I would prompt my students with the following question - What is your goal for this school year?

90% of the responses I got were - Not to flunk this grade-level.

While I was glad that my students had a goal, I wonder if my students know what exact steps they should take to achieve their goal. Hence, I prompted them further with some action-specific questions, and those questions helped them gain more clarity with their goals.

Here are some questions to ask and discuss with your child about setting goals.

1. What are your goals for this year?

When your children set goals at school, they tend to focus on academic goals or other school-related matters. By setting goals at home with your children, you can include other aspects of their lives such as self-management (e.g., sharing housework), physical health (e.g., working out regularly, eating healthy), extra-curricular activities, etc.

2. How do you know you have achieved your goal?

This question helps your children to visualize the goal and the consequent steps. Ultimately, we want our children to be able to set goals for themselves and achieve them on their own in the future. By thinking through how their achievements should look, it helps them identify their action items and keep track of their progress.

3. What do you need to do daily/weekly/monthly to achieve your goal?

Now that your children have identified their goals, it's time to plan out their action steps. Your children may or may not know what it takes to achieve their goals. Assist them if needed to help them solidify their plans. Depending on the goals, they might need to take steps daily/weekly/monthly. If they can turn those steps into a habit, it will increase their chance to achieve their goals. The key is consistency, and this is a great time to guide and support your children on their plans.

4. What tools can help you to stay on track?

Instead of reminding your child daily what they should do to achieve their goal, wouldn't it be great if they can develop self-discipline and do it automatically? Your children might need a schedule to keep track and plan out their daily activities, some signs around the house to remind them to clean up after using a space (they can create the signs!), or an alarm to keep track of computer time. Whatever it may be, discuss with your children about the tools they can use and create and put those tools to use.


I hope these suggestions can help you set goals with your children and make the most out of 2021. Goal-setting is an important skill to have, and it takes many practices to become proficient in it. Start today and help your children develop this essential skill for their adulthood!

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