Goal Setting for Kids. How to Problem Solve Effectively

Goal setting for kids often involves over coming challenges and solving problems that come up along the way. Teaching our kids to be good at problem solving will help them to become more adaptable to life’s ups and downs.

To solve problems well we do not always need to know all of the steps that we need to take before we start. Being adaptable is the key, keep in mind the old saying that “when one door closes another opens.” We need to teach our kids, to find solutions and not give up easily.

When goal setting with my kids I often start at the end and work backwards. I start by asking them what they would like to see happen next time, (with next time referring to whatever problem we are trying to solve).

As my children are still young (7 and 4) most of our goal setting or problem solving revolves around them finding ways to express their needs. For example, last night my sons was desperate for me to spend time with him and was unusually upset because it was too wet to go outside and play ball. I told him it was okay we could do something inside together and what did he want to do?

He chose his activity, and before going off to do it he literally blurted out how he thought it was unfair that he was not allowed to go down the slides by himself earlier in the day at the aquatic playground we had been too. I was told in no uncertain terms that he was now 7 years old and old enough to do these things himself.

Okay now I had a good understanding of why he was upset about not going outside, we often use footy time as a time to chat about what happened in his day. Secondly I understood why he wanted time with me on a one to one base.

We talked about how he felt and what he would like to see happen the next time we go to the water park. In the end we had come up with a few solutions.

I try to encourage my kids to find solutions that work for everyone. For example, our solutions in the above example involved firstly us as parents stepping back and giving him more freedom, secondly our son expressing his needs to us so we know what he wants. And finally for him to accept that sometimes their will still be times when we still need to hold his hand, so to speak, to make sure he is safe.

When goal setting for kids (and ourselves), problem solving is an important skills from start to finish. Not only do we need it to find possible solutions to reach our goal, we also need to use it when we come up against hurdles along the way.

While we do not need to know all the steps involved in the process, we do need to have a clear picture of what we want to achieve. Without a clear picture it is easy to get off track and lose site of what it is we are trying to solve.

Talking about the goal and what we want to achieve helps to paint a clear picture of our desired end result.

Points to remember when Problem Solving
and Goal Setting for Kids

  • Do not get stuck in needing to know all the steps in achieving the goal – why because it can stop you from starting. Often the steps only become clear once we start. It is also important to teach our kids that it’s okay not to know all the answers right now.
  • the Journey is just as important as the end result, enjoying the journey helps our kids to learn to appreciate living and enjoying life now, not waiting for the future to bring them happiness.
  • Mistakes are a normal part of problem solving, they require correction not punishment

Achieving goals and all the steps in between is fantastic at improving our child’s self confidence. This is why it is so important that we make goal setting for kids achievable.

Why being able to Control Emotions is Important
to Goal Setting for Kids

Daniel Goleman, the so called guru on emotional intelligence, conducted an experiment on children’s ability to delay gratification. He left the children alone in a room for a short period with one marshmallow. The children were told that they could eat the marshmallow now or if they waited until he came back he would give them not one marshmallow but two marshmallows. The results of this experiment were very interesting.

Children who were able to resist the temptation and wait so they could get two marshmallows had a greater range of positive social skills later in life. They scored better in positive behavior, had better mental health and also better academic results.

The explanation for this was that people (including children) who are able to control their emotions had better self control and were less likely to act on impulse and make spur of the moment decisions.

Tips on How to Control Emotions in Children

  • If you buy your child a sweetie when up the street make them wait until you get home before they can eat it or better still make them wait until after a meal.
  • Set goals for your children and help them to achieve these goals by being their personal coach. This is a great way to teach your children about the satisfaction of achieving something.
  • Pocket money. Make them earn the pocket money by keeping their room tidy and so on. Encourage your child to use the money to save up for something special that they want. Making your kids save up for something makes them delay the gratification of having it now. This helps them to learn to control their emotions.

To read more on goal setting for kids click on the links below

Updated: July 3, 2019 — 3:14 pm

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