Goal-Setting and Children: Do Your Kids Go the Extra Mile?
Some children set goals and quit half way through. Others go all the way. Still others go the extra mile. Take a look at these AWESOME children who did each one of there Powerful Words Character projects for the whole year (12, in total) and were honored in a special ceremony for doing so. CONGRATS powerful students of Alpha Martial Arts!
So…How do we encourage our children to stay focused on their goals and go the extra mile?
Encourage a Persevering Attitude: The motto I talk about in any of my speaking engagements to educators, parents and of course, to the children/teens/young people themselves, is “I’ve got a no-quit-go-for-it-attitude.” How do you encourage an attitude like that? Research tells us that getting children involved in various activities, supporting their autonomy, understanding parenting style, and ensuring appropriately challenging, high expectations for your child are all important. Some parents don’t expect too much from their children and their children perform below their potential. Children will often surprise us if we allow them to!
Support Internal rewards: Some parents offer external rewards for commitment like toys, money, or TV. But the best rewards are those that come from inside. Help your children connect their feelings of pride to their performance. For example—here’s an abridged conversation I had with one 6 year old student:
“Wow! You did so well on your spelling test! You studied so hard…congratulations! How do you feel?”
“Where do you feel happy?”
“Everywhere! In my belly, my arms and my face- like happy-bugs.”
Wow! Happy-bugs? I like that. All those “happy-bug” feelings you have in your belly are feelings of pride. Feelings of pride happen when you try your hardest and you accomplish your goals. They make us stand up straighter and smile bigger. That feels good, doesn’t it?
Don’t allow a pattern of quitting to occur: When children seem to continually tell you “I want to quit!” it’s important that we don’t just give in. While young children may not be quitting life-altering activities, early behavior often predicts later behavior. In other words, by giving in, we can inadvertently set our children up for a pattern of quitting that seeps into adolescence and adulthood when stakes are high and commitment is vital. When our children want to participate in something, make sure they understand the time commitment they will be adhering to and the consequences for premature quitting or disrespectful lethargy.
Help the Redefine Their Best: Mediocrity can be contagious within the self. We do what we’ve done in the past even if it’s no longer our best. This is especially true when it comes to self-limiting thoughts and labels (i.e. “I don’t do well in geometry,” “writing doesn’t come as easy to my daughter as it does for my son”). When I present on self –limiting thoughts, I tell a story about my own private label and inner mantra that I allowed govern my performance up until about 8th grade; “I’m not as smart as my brothers…I’m stupid…I can’t do it.” There comes a time when we need to help our children redefine their best—get them out of old, and often untrue limiting statements, and provide them with evidence of the contrary. My evidence was a 100% on a 8th grade math. Once I redefined my potential, there was no stopping me.
Support goal-setting and vision: We’ll be talking about “vision” in January as it’s the Powerful Word of the Month. Help your children to imagine what is possible for the future and make it as visceral as possible. What is their goal? What would that look like? What would that feel like? In the case of the powerful students from Alpha Martial Arts, they might have asked themselves, “What would it feel like to stand up in front of my teachers, friends, parents, and siblings, and be honored for completing the goal of getting all of my Powerful Words Projects in this year? What would I hear? What would I see? When the vision is clear, they can wear it like a coat, insolating them from goal-robbing messages they might hear from others or from inside themselves from time to time.
Again, many congratulations to all those children who set goals in 2010 and have made progress on them—or achieved them! I wish you lots of happy-bugs. Keep going! YOU are powerful!
Goal-Setting and Children: How to Help Your Kids Go the Extra Mile is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System