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In my last blog, “Where Did My Baby Go? 4 Ways to Deal with Raising Teens…and Still Love Them,” one tip was goal setting.
Goal setting is a lifelong skill that will guide your child through the darkest of situations.
Goals give hope. Goals give light at the end of that deep, dark tunnel. Goals give focus. Goals motivate and inspire. Goals achieve results.
Our children will one day be on their own…if they are not already. When they are, they need to have the tool of goal setting in their “toolbelts.” Dr. Edwin Locke, an American psychologist and pioneer in goal-setting theory, and his research partner, Dr. Gary Latham, surmised 5 principles for setting goals:
Help your teen set clear, attainable goals. Everyone needs to see positive results. Have your teen write down his goals. Putting it in writing helps make it clearer.
Help your teen set goals that will challenge him….ones that will make him reach for his full potential. Challenge involves risk. A small amount of risk is healthy. Risk and challenge involve uncertainty, and this can be alarming to a teen. Help him to set challenging goals and follow through to the end result so that he can see the awesome benefits of meeting the challenging goal.
Help your child set goals and stay committed to them. Never give up. There is always a way, under, or around, or through. Sometimes the challenging road to success is littered with potholes and detours, but commitment shows true grit, especially as the goals become more challenging. Teach your teen to never give up!
Constructive criticism is a tough bullet for some people to bite. Teach your teen how to look at the “man in the mirror” and make true assessments of their current situation. Have they reached their goal? If the goal has not been met, what are issues standing in the way, and what are steps to take to successfully meet the goal this time? Teach him how to accept the feedback of others and how to use this as a gauge of genuine success or failure.
Ensure your teen has adequate time to complete complex tasks and meet his goal. If stress or frustration arise, sit down with your teen, and take an inventory of the current situation, analyzing where things went wrong and determining how to fix these issues. If necessary, especially in the beginning, break up more complex tasks into smaller chunks so that your teen sees and feels some success along the way. What is more frustrating than feeling like you’re spinning your wheels in a million directions!
Locke also coined the idea of SMART goals.
Have your teen honestly ask himself the following questions regarding the goal:
- Is the goal specific?
- Is the goal measurable?
- Is this goal attainable?
- Is this goal relevant in his life?
- Are the time constraints for this goal realistic?
Begin with baby steps, even in middle school, especially in middle school, and gradually increase the levels of goals you help your teen set. In the end, your child, his future wife, his future boss, his future children, etc., will all thank you for teaching him effective goal setting strategy. Goal setting leads to great success in all areas of life. While you’re at it, what are your goals for the next 6 months? The next year? The next 5 years? The next decade? You are never too old to set goals. Reach for the sky!
All the best as we reach for our goals,
Song of Sapelo Sunset
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