Whether you call them goal charts, chore charts or habit trackers, it’s never too early to cultivate good habits. Begin teaching kids to make decisions about setting and keeping goals. Kids learn by observation, so set great examples by sharing your goals with your kids.
What to know when you help kids set goals…
1. Goals direct attention and effort toward goal-relevant activities and away from goal-irrelevant activities.
2. Goals have an energizing function. Goals create efforts.
3. Goals effect persistence. Goals prolong effort.
4. Goals rally us to bring task-relevant knowledge and strategies to the problem at hand.
—Edwin Locke & Gary Latham
Your children’s age is the first factor in helping them to set goals. Age appropriate goals for kids can include chores, tasks and good habits you want to help them cultivate. Schools and classrooms use goals as a motivational tool to teach kids how to work consistently as individuals or as a team to accomplish a task.
When you help kids set goals (for chores, tasks and assignments) you reinforce behavior leading to the creation of positive habits.
Work with your kids to get them motivated and excited about using a goal setting system. If your kids are excited about seeing their accomplishments and tracking the benefits then it will be easier to begin implementing a new system.
Another very important factor you help kids set goals is knowing how your child learns.
Are they visual and creative? If so create a vision board or goal sheet that is colorful and visually exciting.
Do they love electronic’s? Search for apps or “games” that help you and your children set goals and track them via tech tools you can both access.
Do they respond well to auditory cues? Set alarms or use sounds to reward or track progress.
All of these factors will be helpful when determining what kind of system to set up. Take into account your own preferences as well. If your child is very tech savvy but you don’t have the first clue, don’t set up a system you won’t be able to monitor. Help create a system will be successful for them in the long run. This may mean trying a couple things until you find the right strategy, don’t get discouraged, ask around, look online and keep working at it. Consistency is key to setting goals and forming new habits.
Types of Goal Tracking Systems
- Chore Charts can be assigned as appropriate by age, starting small and working towards more complex chores around the house, at school etc. These can easily be created for small children who can’t read with picture graphics and check marks, stickers or magnets to keep track of chores by day or week.
- Goal charts are great for tracking progress on school projects and keeping track of goals for personal growth. If you or your children prefer ‘progress chart’ is a good alternate term.
- Habit trackers are great for teaching kids to be consistent when learning new habits like brushing teeth am/pm, making beds, drinking water etc.
Many of these terms are interchangeable and some households may prefer one term over another or a combination of these for different activities. The idea is to keep kids motivated and accountable to learning new habits, setting goals and doing what they are asked to do.
A Note about rewards…Some parents love to reward their kids with tangible praise by way of allowance or “Screen-time” like games and TV. Other parents prefer reward charts and coupons as an alternate way to track of goals, habits or chores with visual cues rather than tangible items.
Help kids set goals that are SMART!
When kids are 9-12 yrs old (earlier if they are mature and it’s appropriate), you may want to introduce them to the concept of S.M.A.R.T. Goals to teach them how to set and successfully reach their goals with accountability.
S. pecific-What exactly is the goal or habit you want to track, change or set?
M. easurable-How will you know you have accomplished your new goal?
A. ctionable-What are the steps needed to achieve this goal?
R. ealistic-Do you have the skills, time and supplies needed to achieve your goal?
T. imely-What timeline or deadline do you have and how will you break the goal down into time chunks to accomplish it by the deadline? (school year, monthly, weekly etc)
Talk to your kids about how and why they set goals. Why does this matter? It will help them to understand how setting goals empowers them to create success by their own definition.
When we create keystone habits, they can become routine and no longer require as much effort. This process becomes a catalyst for other positive goals and automatic behavior. This is a simplification of forming habits, but if you’re interested in learning more, I recommend the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
Keep your kids charts for tracking goals and habits someplace easy to see, either in their room or incorporate them into your household Command Center. Check Pinterest for tons of free printable downloads or make your own on a whiteboard, blackboard or clipboard with printouts etc.
Goals are guidelines and should not be so rigid that they are make us unhappy so don’t forget to just enjoy life!