Make Sure KIds Have Right Goals in The Upcoming School Year
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY
with Jim Daly and Dr. Juli Slattery
Q: I’m struggling with how to keep my kids motivated throughout the school year. In past years, I’ve felt like the cheerleader, constantly encouraging them to take school seriously. How can I make this year different?
Juli: Many parents dread the beginning of a new school year even more than their children, for the very reason you mentioned. It takes a lot of energy to motivate kids to stay on top of their work!
One key to starting out the year on a positive note is to begin with realistic and objective goals as a source of motivation. Whereas the right kind of goals can be encouraging, the wrong goals can add to feelings of apathy and failure.
First of all, make sure the goals you help your kids set are realistic. For example, most children are not capable of getting all A’s and stop trying when they receive their first subpar grade. So, instead, how about setting the goal of getting a higher math grade than they did last year or turning in their assignments on time?
Secondly, your child’s goals should be objective or measurable. Having the goal of “working hard” may sound inspiring, but it will feel like nailing Jell-O to a tree unless there is an objective way of seeing progress.
Finally, remember that not all school goals should be academic. Although grades are important, your child may also need to focus on goals more related to character or social skills.
Whether your children are entering kindergarten or college, help them to create a goal or two and write them down. Younger children may need to have their goals mapped on a sticker chart so they can see their progress.
Your job is to slowly transfer the motivation for doing well to your children. Teaching your kids to set and achieve goals is a great step in the process.
(Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, host of the Focus on the Family radio program, and a husband and father of two. Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.)
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