The Importance of Goal Setting for Children

When I think about setting goals, I think back to school and the acronym “SMART” comes to mind. Anybody who has done any amount of reading up about how to set goals will know about SMART.

Setting goals for ourselves as adults almost comes naturally to us now, regardless of how serious or light-hearted those goals may be and whether we use the “SMART” approach or not.

But, when we think about setting goals as parents, how much thought do we put into the importance of teaching our children how to set goals from a really young age?

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The Importance of Goal Setting for Children

If you’re wondering how it’s possible for toddlers to have goals, or worried about goal setting being too serious of a concept for your little one to tackle right now, I get it. I also had my doubts to begin with.

But, after doing a bit of reading and researching, I came across some information that made a lot of sense to me.

As a parent, I want to make sure I equip my kiddies with all the tools they need to navigate life with confidence and resilience and I realised that teaching them how to set goals from a young age will help with that.

The Role of Setting Goals in Early Childhood Development

Children are by nature goal setters. They are always dreaming about what they want to be, where they want to go, places they want to see. Yes, a bit of this is imagination, but a big part of it is setting a goal.

As we know, the mind of a child is like a sponge and their developmental stages provide parents with the perfect opportunity to instil important skills, lessons and principles which will stick like glue, and much easier than if we try and teach them the same later in their lives.

Here are some reasons why it’s important to teach your child how to set goals:

It Gives Them a Sense of Purpose

Building your child’s self-esteem is a crucial part of early childhood development which forms the foundation for all their social skills. Self-esteem paves the way for a child to interact with others in a confident and collected manner throughout his or her life.

Setting small goals and achieving them can really improve their self-esteem and, in turn, encourages them to want to set more goals. This creates a cycle of determination and accomplishment. Invariably, the result is a confident child who thrives on working hard to achieve their goals.

Teaches Them to be Realistic

While teaching your child about goal setting, you can also take that opportunity to teach them the difference between goals and dreams, both of which are extremely important for your child to have.

Although there is no dream too big and we should always encourage our children to reach for the stars, it’s equally important to teach them how to be realistic when setting goals.

Unrealistic goals will set your child up for failure, causing their self-esteem to take a big knock. Realistic goals make them more achievable. And no, I’m not saying that we should protect our children from missing the ball every now and then.

In fact, it’s important to let them face their obstacles and disappointments so that they can develop their problem-solving skills and resilience along the way. Let them understand that a hurdle doesn’t mean failure, it just means a different approach should be taken.

It Fine-Tunes Their Focus

By now we know that children have highly active minds and imaginations which can sometimes get in the way of their ability to focus.

Holding onto a sense of direction is crucial for the goal-setting journey. Typically speaking, goals have some form of reward – whether it’s something tangible or rather a feeling or emotion. Either way, a reward exists. The idea of a reward can be used to harness your child’s willingness to stay focused on the goal.

With a target in mind, your child has something to work towards which ultimately fosters decision making skills. The ability to make decisions is not only a major benefit of having a goal to work towards, but it also plays an important role in achieving the goal itself.

In other words, your child develops decision-making skills when presented with various choices to make which could either take them closer to or further away from their goal.

Oh, and remember not to tell them what decision to make, but rather offer gentle guidance while they learn to decide for themselves. Who said parenting would be easy or straight-forward?

It Unlocks Their Potential

When children set goals, they are bound to start navigating uncharted territory. It’s inevitable that they will learn something new about themselves along the way.

During this process, children discover what their own potential is, and this can be extremely rewarding for them as they learn what they are capable of achieving.

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As a parent, it is our responsibility to raise skilled, well-rounded, and confident children. Understanding how early childhood development helps with this is the single most important thing a parent can do for their children.

Early childhood development isn’t made up of just one or two things. In fact, it is a multi-dimensional concept which every parent should adopt when raising their children.

Nobody ever said this parenting thing would be easy but, hey, it’s by far one of the biggest blessings in the world which should not be taken with a pinch of salt. After all, as parents, we chose to bring new life into this world, so it’s up to us to make sure they thrive!

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