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It is difficult for teens to see beyond the present. Goal setting challenges them psychologically, because it involves having to wait for a long time to see the results, which is a good lesson to teach as kids grow up. They should learn that anything good is worth working for and that it is only over time and effort that we see the true results of all of our hard work. Very few things come to us immediately.
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Setting Effective Goals
Here are a few tips to follow when teaching your child to set effective goals.
- Consider priorities. Ask your child what is most important to him. For example, if he wants to play on the high school football team but is are a little less athletic than he needs to be, a productive goal might be to improve his throw, increase his running speed or gain a few pounds. If he want to make all As, but currently has Bs, brainstorm ways to improve. The goals kids set should always reflect what is most important to them.
- Be realistic. It is great to dream, but it’s better to choose a goal that is achievable than to continually strive unattainable goals. Using basic behavioral psychology principles, if kids repeatedly try but fail they will lose much of their motivation to try. Realistic goals challenge them to reach higher than they have before.
- Compete with yourself. Kids shouldn’t feel they are in a contest with other kids. Instead, teach them to challenge themselves to do better than they did in the past.
- Vary the focus of the goals. It is a good idea to put some focus on schoolwork as well as things at home, such as spending more time with important tasks, achieving some task they were afraid to complete before or another life skill.
- Mark off achievements as you go. Kids should realize that each milestone they reach takes them that much closer to their end goal. An important lesson to teach them is that, little by little, they will reach their goal and that nothing is won overnight. The little accomplishments we do day by day bring us closer to our bigger goals.
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Goal setting for teens should center on the things that are most important to them, including school tasks, life goals, careers and relationships. Teach them to create long-term goals coupled with several shorter-term goals, which lead up to the achievement of the long-term goal. Also, make sure the goals are attainable, reachable, and that they are something they can be proud of as they mark off each smaller task.
Over time, they will come to see that life is about a gradual progression of accomplishments and that it is only the continual grind of daily tasks that bring us to our ultimate achievements.