What do you want to be when you grow up? I stayed ready for that question, like Ralphie from A Christmas Story! When you asked him, “What do you want for Christmas?” He would answer with such precision that you knew he was serious. That was me.
Gratefully, my parents did a good job encouraging me to pursue those goals and keep my eyes on the prize. Admittedly, now that I’m a parent and the shoes are on the other foot, I can’t say that this role has been easy as it pertains to some of my children’s goals. As parents, there are certain qualities and natural abilities we see in our children that they may not see. We have more exposure to different industries and careers that our children may not know about. So, when they come to us and say they want to be a marine biologist but are scared of water, we try to guide them in a different direction.
Many times, I’ve had to bite my lip and hold my tongue because while I want to push them in a different direction, I understand that it is not my job to write their story. It is my job to encourage and support their dreams. Of course, it’s also my job to let them know they can’t be an owl when they grow up, but I can educate them on the countless careers available to help take care of owls.
In supporting their dreams, I also recognize that it’s my job to help them understand that setbacks are not failures. Just the thought of that word failure sends me in a tizzy. It’s another word I’d like to eliminate from our language. There are no failures. There are setbacks, lessons, and moving on situations, but never failures!
Children setting their own goals is of such great importance to their future success. As parents, we must remind ourselves, as I do often, this is not my story to write. It is their story. They are the authors. We give them the pen and paper, they create.
According to Positive Psychology, “…the benefits of goal setting for youth include:
- Provides direction, which most youths are either seeking or trying to nail down.
- Helps children clarify what is important to them and focus on it.
- Facilitates more effective decision-making through better self-knowledge, direction, and focus.
- Allows children to take a more active role in building their own future.
- Acts as a powerful motivator by giving children something to hope for and aspire towards.
- Gives children a positive experience of achievement and personal satisfaction when they reach a goal.
- Assists children in finding a sense of purpose in their lives (The Peak Performance Center, n.d.).”
Even if you’re child isn’t old enough to know what they want to be when they grow up, give them the opportunity to reach smaller goals. By the end of the week, you’ll be able to read 3 new words. Or in a couple of weeks, you’ll know the entire alphabet! Those short-term goals can ignite a flame and excitement for completing tasks that will last a lifetime and it’s never too early to start. Encourage your children to set long and short-term goals. Completing the short-term goals will help them stay encouraged as they steer the course for the long term.
Lady Bird Johnson from Education Corner shares to “encourage and support your kids because children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.”