For most of us, New Year means a time to look back and reflect on the last 12 months and make a conscious decision to do better in certain areas. This might be work, diet, relationship, getting up earlier etc there are a number of ways we can all benefit from making resolutions.
The same goes for your child as well. Your child can learn a lot about self-discipline and start to see the value in setting resolutions and goals. Many children actually find it a great way to start the New Year. Statistics have also proven time and time again that written goals are quite essential to those who wish to become successful in life. This makes goal-setting a great practice to instill in your child from the ‘get-go’.
As parents, your first instinct might be to come up with a list of your own, highlighting the items on your wish list for your child, for the New Year. This not only contradicts the aim of the exercise but could turn out to be counterproductive, as it would be an extension of your list as opposed to one drawn up by your child.
A great way would be to try letting your child come up with a list of their own New Year’s resolution ideas, with you guiding them to be most realistic as you see fit. If they don’t feel as though they’re the ones setting the goal, chances are they won’t feel a strong desire to stick to it. Instead, provide some gentle guidance and encourage them to identify the areas they want to work on their own. This would definitely be a better approach as your child will feel more involved in the process and, as a result, would be more likely to stick to the agenda.
Having said that, the process has to be properly organised in order to make the goals more achievable. One of the most used methods to achieve this is by using the SMART method.
S = Specific
For example, if your child is struggling in a particular subject (or topic) at school, you could make that the goal to aim for. This narrows things down a bit, instead of aiming to do well overall, as this might be a bit overwhelming for your child. This is just an example and the specifics can be agreed on with your child.
M = Motivating
You’d need to make sure your child is excited or interested in accomplishing this goal If not, this will have an impact on the process. If your child doesn't enjoy reading or number work, try relating the goal to something that interests them.
For example, your child might be aspiring to become a scientist or a journalist. They’d need to understand the importance of performing well enough in school in order to achieve the right grades to fulfill their dream. The right motivation always puts such plans into a clearer perspective and thereby making the path for success much smoother.
A = Attainable
Your child’s resolution will need to be realistic in order for it to be attainable. Going back to the Maths and reading example, your child might be so pumped up with excitement about achieving the right grades in order to keep his/her professional dream alive, that the prospect might become overwhelming at some point.
Assuming their grades have been quite low in these areas, it would be unrealistic for you both to agree on a more than significant jump in their grades from perhaps (as an example) an achievement below the required target/expectation to a grade above expectation. A middle road would need to be agreed on and of course if that radical spike in their grades occurs – happy days!
R = Relevant
We have already mentioned the importance of setting goals for all of us and (of course) instilling this practice in our children. We do however have to be mindful of the type of goals set and their relevance to your child's growth and development. Goals should not be set for setting’s sake. See this as an opportunity for your child to really accomplish something.
T = Trackable
Measuring the progress of your child’s resolution is also advisable as seeing proof of progress as they work towards their goal will definitely go a long way in boosting their confidence.
In the same vein, tracking their progress will enable them spot and adjust/correct any issues along the way, should there be a need to do so.
Tracking might sound a bit overwhelming but there are different ways to implement this, depending on what the goal is; going back to the Maths and reading scenario, your child’s grades can be monitored throughout the course of the term, from homework to homework, so that any irregularities can be nipped in the bud. This, in turn, will prevent any surprises from springing up come end of each term and keep your child on track to achieve the intended goal, come end of the year.
By bearing all of the above in mind, you'll be helping to set your child up for success in this year and others to come.
Now we’ve outlined the process, here are a few examples of goals that are very appropriate for many ages that you could discuss with your child:
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