Goal setting for teens

2010-03-25 00:00

VERY few teenagers are excited about their school work and a lot of them are rather stressed with the spectre of exams looming. Other teens are fine academically, but don’t participate in sports or extramural activities, even though they may want to. It’s not too late to help them set goals for the rest of the year and start ensuring that what is important to them is achieved.

 

Goal-setting exercise

• Create a dream map.

Give your teen some magazines and a big piece of cardboard. Then give them some time and space on their own and let them build a collage of what they want for their life (not just for now, but the rest of their lives). What type of job do they want? What kind of house? What do they want to do with their spare time? What is important to them? What is their big dream? Let them fill their collage with pictures of what they want to achieve.

Now that they see the big picture, it is easier to set goals for today. For instance, if they want to be an engineer, then maths and science suddenly becomes very important. Ask them what they want by the end of the year: more close friendships, better grades or more involvement in sport, etc. Let them write these ideas down.

Ask them to choose their top five. These will be their long-term goals.

• Create meaningful goals

Goals need to be personal and academic (not just the latter) and should ideally be only a handful. Too many goals becomes too much to focus on.

The goals need to be their own. Thrusting your goals onto them without their input will do nothing at all to motivate them. Their goals need to link to something they are passionate about (science isn’t exciting now, but it is a step on the road to me becoming a zoologist).

Now that he or she has long-term goals, help them to break these into smaller, short-term goals. For example, if the long- term goal is to go from a C to a B in maths, then short-term goals could be to go to extra maths lessons once a week for three months or do extra maths homework by using study guides at least twice a week.

All goals need to be measurable (you must be able to see when they are reached) and achievable (for example, a goal of going from an F in geography to an A in one term is unrealistic).

Goals need to have a time frame. Ensure that your child states when he or she wants to achieve each goal.

Write all goals down. The more your child sees them, the more they will be on his or her mind. Post-it notes on the fridge, above their desk or on their walls are good examples.

Praise and celebrate all goals that are reached, even the small ones. Frequent affirmations like this motivate your child to keep pursuing their goals. Be careful not to make rewards the only end goal though, your teen needs to be motivated by their goals themselves, not the rewards you give them.

• The perks of goals

Your child will feel in control of his or her life and will believe that “I can directly make that happen. It’s up to me.”

Reaching goals improves self-esteem and self-confidence. Achieving what they set out to do means that your children are making progress and taking vital steps in achieving the big dreams they have for their lives. 

— Parent 24.com

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