Goals are a way to instil your family values so that it develops from within your children rather than you telling them what to do.
How can we break goals down to make it easy to implement with our children at home?
Goals can be simple conversations!!
It is a process of daily training your children to think about what they want, to try things and measure the result and then adjust their action until they get the result they want. Some children take longer than others. Our role as parents is to be patient during this process knowing our outcome (developing their thinking) is bigger than the result in the moment! So often we know the result and try to influence them to do what they need to do, but unfortunately this is when our frustration comes in when they don’t listen! So giving them the responsibility diffuses our frustration too. The long term outcome becomes our goal and then if the result in the moment doesn’t work it is less frustrating.
The starting point for goals is having family meetings. Family meetings are a great way to establish a space for open communication. Encouraging your children to express their opinions on what is happening in the family gives you insight as to how they are thinking and how you can influence them. Ask them what they think about different situations, and how they think it could be. Let them try their way and help them with feedback. Then their learning comes from experience rather than what you tell them.
Examples of where we can start with goals:
1. Fun activities
What fun activities would they like? Talk to them about the organising of fun activities. What is involved with organising them? What can they do in this organisation? If they want to go somewhere, can they help with some of the things you need to do so that you have time to take them? The goal is the outing, what do they need to do to get to that? It can be as simple as helping you carry to the car or doing a chore to save you time. This develops the process of thought that things don’t just happen.
What chores would you like them to do? What would they like to do? Have a discussion about what they agree to do and get specific. Have clarity of where your boundary is and give them freedom to try things their way. For example they have to feed the dogs – can you give them some choice of when (before or after getting dressed for example) Once they have agreed to how often and how they are going to do it, this agreement becomes the frame of reference for conversations when they slip up. Conversations are then not personal and refer back to the agreement. The chore is the goal, the process of them learning to do chores and the learning of the cause and effect from them doing and not doing them teaches them responsibility
3. Making friends
Friends and relationships are an important part of life and creating good friendships is a great skill for them to learn. Ask them about their friends, what they like about them, what they think good friendships look like. Encourage them to think about what friends they would like and how they could work at developing those friendships. Friendship is the goal, what action steps do they need to take each day to develop that?
- Family relationships
Having conversations with your children about what they want in their family gives them an opportunity to create good relationships with you and their siblings. Ask them what they would like from their brothers or sisters, what do they do for them? What do they like or dislike with you? Encouraging them to talk openly and honestly without taking things personally gives everyone an opportunity to be authentic and grow closer. Good family relationships is the goal, what do each member of the family need to learn about each other and do to achieve that?
5. Achievements in school
How often do you talk to your children about what they want to achieve in school? Is can be a simple as wanting to learn their colours or numbers or what grades they want. Encourage them to think about why they want that? What would they get? How would they feel if they achieve that? With young children, they might not quite understand yet or be able to give you an answer and that is ok. Your goal is to start their thinking process about it and that they are not just following the process of what is happening in life. Have conversations often with curiosity not expectation, leaving them in the responsibility of achieving. Doing this at a young age where the outcome doesn’t really matter develops their ability for when it does.
Goals are key for:
- Developing motivation and a sense of responsibility
- It is a foundation for them to base their choices on
- Developing independence and confidence
- It can be used for agreement frames – an effective way to handle conflict
- It develops the thought process – What do I want and how can I get it
- It develops the belief – I create my life, I don’t react to what life presents me
It is not only about the goal and achieving it, it is about the process of thinking that you develop in them. Usually the reason we tell our children what to do is to teach them. The way we teach them has a powerful effect on how they think and ultimately how successful they become.
Goals are not just about the big things and the once a year resolutions, they are a system to use for our day to day decisions. Having clarity of each choice we make has a huge impact on our results. The ultimate goal is to teach our children to make decisions from an internal response (what they think or believe is right) Asking questions and developing that way of thinking in the small activities is what will keep them safe in teenage years and will result in them becoming responsible resourceful adults.