Lesson 8 - Guiding Kids in Goal Setting

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This is not a part-time job… there is no such thing as ‘quality time.’ There is 'time' period! To do a good job raising our children, we must give them time, our time… and lots of it!

The best way to treat a child as if he/she is responsible, capable, intelligent, and important is to give him/her the tools of goal setting! Teaching these skills says, "You are capable and responsible so here are the tools to run your own life and make your own decisions."

As was said earlier, this does not mean you are becoming permissive or are telling your kids to do anything that they want. If you have done a good job of helping them to select the values that are used in making good decisions, this process will be the farthest thing from permissiveness! Rather, the process of guiding children to set goals becomes an internal regulating mechanism which guides them to make good decisions… and it does not require you to be present at the time the decision is made. Goal-directed children are highly disciplined children and they are guided by the only true kind of discipline: Self-Discipline.

When you give your children the gift of Goal Setting, you give them a lasting and life-long tool to live fulfilled lives with maximized success and minimized disappointment. Here are the basics:

Select What You Want

Parents guide their children to use the "Top Twenty List" from the last class ("Teaching Your Values to Your Kids") as a guide to setting their list of goals. That list is a wonderful place to start in setting goals for life. Teach them that it is also very reasonable to set short term, daily or weekly goals as well. The first step must always be to pick exactly and precisely what you want. Teach them to be extremely careful in what they select because once it is selected, worded, and used correctly it will probably become a reality in their life. (Remind them at every opportunity, that the ideas in their head will rule their world and that nobody else can put any idea in their head without their consent. They are in charge of the direction of their own life by choosing the ideas that they live by! (At this point many parents wish to suggest religious teachings as being of great help in selecting the ideas which formulate their choices.)

Apply the "Three P's" of Goal Setting

Personal: Divide the world into two parts… the part that you can control, and the part that you can't control. Then word your goal so that it focuses only on the part of the world that you can control. So often people set goals for things that are out of their control, like grades in school or to be a starter on an athletic team. Those are controlled by someone else (namely the teacher or the coach.) So, as you guide your child in the process of wording their goals, help them to aim for things in their control. If they want to achieve excellence in school help them to write things like: "I always get to class on time, I complete every assignment and turn them all in on time, I obey all classroom rules, I study for every class every night (even if I don't have a specific assignment), I always ask questions when I don't completely understand, and I am always cheerful and respectful of my teachers even if I may not particularly like them.

Present: Change is a "today activity." Teach your children to word their goals in present tense, as if they do, be or have what they want right now and then start today! So many well-intentioned goals never become reality simply because the person never got started. Help your children to set reasonable time frames for accomplishing their goals and include those in the wording of their goals. If their goals are long-range in nature then help them to select intermediate goals to measure progress. But above all, help them to start now!

Positive: Effective goals must focus upon what you do want and not on what you don't want. Help your children to word their goals so that they state clearly the exact description of what they want. (Just as we discussed in our Lesson on discipline where we said that you must decide exactly what you want, so to must anyone who is setting a goal for their own performance.) It really helps to word the goal to include many descriptive terms that not only explain what is wanted but also explain why this goal will be of benefit. A well-written goal brings to mind the excitement, the joy, and the ecstasy of accomplishing it!

Watch Out for the "Roadblocks to Success"

Pushback: "The natural human resistance to change." Help your kids to see that anytime that they try to change that their mind and body will resist. Ignore it and reread your goal and move ahead.

Rationalization: "Blaming failure on circumstances." The human mind will try to blame circumstances for any perceived lack of success in accomplishment of a goal. Parents must make kids aware that it is normal for their mind to do this and that they must not let it happen. (Talk about teaching accountability… this is exactly what you are doing!) This again is where it is a good idea to get out the goal as it was written and read it carefully because the goal was written to cover only what the individual can control.

Projection: "Blaming failure on other people." Just like rationalization, projection is normal but very unproductive. Anytime that our mind can blame someone else for our failure, it will. Kids must be taught that if they truly wrote their goal correctly, then nobody else can prevent them from achieving their goal.

Procrastination: "Putting off until tomorrow what you can accomplish today." Help your kids to use the wording of their goal to prevent procrastination by continually focusing on their timeframes for accomplishment of their goals. Help them to see that the more measurable short-term goals that they have the less apt they will be to procrastinate.

Creative Avoidance: "Dodging responsibility by simply not facing it." Help your kids to realize that the mind will allow you to forget to work on your goal by letting you become so busy with, interested in, or distracted by other less important things. Just like the other roadblocks, reading their carefully written goals most effectively fights creative avoidance.



Assignment Sheet – Lesson 8:

Sit down with your child (this should be done individually with each child... it should not be a group activity, but rather a very private exercise.) and pick a possible example of something that could be on a person's "Top 20 List" (but it should not be something that your child has chosen on their personal "Top 20 List" because that must be kept very confidential by your child.) For example you might pick a virtue like "honesty", or you might pick something physical like "owning a car". 

Now, you sit down with your child and use that item that could easily be on a Top 20 List and together you form it into a Personal, Present, and Positive statement.

For example you and your child could take honesty, and say, "I am an honest person." Or you could say, "I am honest." Or you might make it more detailed with modifiers, and say, "I am always completely honest even when it is uncomfortable!" 

At this point you, as the parent, can help your child to form more statements using the 3 Ps, (Personal, Present, and Positive.) However, at the point where the parent is confident that the child understands HOW to do this, it is necessary to leave that process for your child to do on their "Top 20 List" totally on their own. They must create their own statements for themselves. You cannot do it with them or for them... you must trust your child at this point. It is their list and it is their life!  You must admit to yourself at this point that you are giving your child ownership of their complete life! Going back to the original teaching from DR. Cobb who said very profoundly to us, "this child is not yours... never has been and never will be. This child has a will of its' own. This child is only on loan to you for 18 years! He will make all of his own big decisions for himself!"



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