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On a crisp morning, we made, (emphasis on made) our daughter get out into nature for a hike. Slower than molasses we made our way through nature with a not so happy nine-year-old straggling behind us. I decided to take things a step further and engage her in a goal setting session as we wove our way through these amazing trees and hoping over small streams. I was delighted to rattle off a few of my goals and my husband took his turn. I then asked my daughter for her goals who let me know that her goal was to make it through the hike alive. After a good laugh, she quickly changed the subject.

Goal setting for kids isn’t such a crazy idea as they/you might think. Goals are something that kids can have some sense of control over in a world where they might not have a sense of control. Though this isn’t true for all kids, they often think about what is going to happen in the present? What fun can I have? What is in this for me? This is completely normal, but we can change their view and give them a sense of ownership and pride in their work.

Creating a kid’s vision board or list can help them learn responsibility and look to the future and plan their steps. We don’t want to relate these to New Year’s Resolutions as those have a stigma that they only last for the first few weeks of January. The boards or lists can be done in any way that is engaging for the child. If kids are crafty, take a trip to your local craft store or take a look at websites for easy shipping of materials. A poster board, markers, glitter, glue, pictures or anything that might make this board theirs and something they take pride in.

Before embarking on making this board, help your kiddo think through something they want to accomplish in the following months, year or 5 years. You can break up the board into those timeframes but know that for the smaller children, you might want to stick with things for the next few months.

Some ideas for the vision board are praying more often, reading each day, start to learn an instrument, practice a favorite sport, start a new sport, help cook dinner, help clean their room or do something nice for someone you don’t know a few times a month. Let your mind free when helping your child. Remember to not downplay any of their ideas as this is new for them and let the ideas flow. You can help them along but be sure that these are their hearts and minds because if they are not connected, they won’t have any desire to attain these goals.

Have fun with this. Maybe even make one of your own with them so you can lead by example.

If you are wondering about my daughter, out of the blue that night she said her goals for the year are to be more confident and to read more. After I thought my idea had gone out the window, she was actually thinking about this all day. We went to the craft store the next day and are now working on our vision boards. Hope you will join us in dreaming for the future too.

Jennifer Norton
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