Typewriter with a piece of paper with the world ‘GOALS’ on it

How to Inspire Goal-Directed Behavior in Your Child

Children are interested in almost everything when they’re young, whether it’s a new animal or an unknown food. But as children get older, they naturally start to refine their interests. It’s when this occurs that parents can begin to see what path their child’s life might take.

Fortunately, the best time to set children on the road to goal-directed behavior is when they start to figure out their hobbies. As they define what they’re passionate about, they’ll start to develop ideas about what to do with a particular talent. And as a parent, there are many things you can do to help!

Choose a Small Goal

One of the best ways to get your child accustomed to goal-directed behavior is to start small. Instead of a goal that will take weeks or months, suggest something like reading a book or completing a drawing.

Even through the simple act of a small goal, children will get a boost and develop confidence. And once they’ve made short work of the small stuff, they’ll be able to move on to longer, loftier pursuits!

You can also encourage them to make small goals by asking them at the end of their school week what they’d like to accomplish over the weekend. Or check in with them after school and see what homework they’d like to finish before the evening is over.

Depending on what their goals are, it’s important that you can track their progress towards a goal. After all, a goal without an end date is just a dream!

Let Them Be Inspired

Most of us have heard tales of parents who make goals for their child, whether they want them to be a star gymnast or the football quarterback. However, it’s very important that your child is able to engage in goal-directed behavior activities they can feel good about.

If they’re passionate about school or academic achievement, you may want to have them join a club that relates to their favorite topic. Or, if they’re really interested in volleyball, sign them up for a league where they can develop their talents and be part of a team.

Children aren’t going to respond well to nagging about doing well at activities they’re not really interested in. That’s why they should care about the goals they commit to so they’ll be invested in the end result.

Listen to Them

Because children are pretty expressive, they can let a lot of statements fly we don’t always pay attention to. Fortunately, when it comes to goal setting, children will often let you know what kind of things they’re interested in and what they might like to do.

For example, if your child is watching a music performance and makes a comment about how they wish they could play bass like one of the performers, seize on it! Look into guitar lessons in your area that will get them involved in an activity they can be passionate about.

Children may talk about a lot of different things, but sometimes they give us clues to what they really want. That’s why it’s so important to listen, even when they’re just making small talk.

Set Your Own Goals

As parents, we all know that children are led by example. Whether it’s eating healthy or swearing, they will readily pick up the habits of those around them, whether good or bad.

Instead of keeping them disconnected from your life goals, make them a part of your own goal-directed behavior. For example, if you’re learning Spanish, have them study with you or make you flash cards so they know you’re working towards the goal. It can also be something simpler like cleaning out the garage or making a fancy meal.

Whatever your interests, making your children a part of your goals will make them more likely to ponder what they’d like to do. It will also enable them to see you pushing through challenges so they can be inspired to do the same!

Acknowledge Their Efforts

We all know it can be hard to achieve a goal, whether it’s learning a language or acing a test. That’s precisely why it’s so important to encourage your child to stay the course.

When your child makes a goal, be sure that they’re aware of what the potential challenges might be. It’s also a good idea to break off larger goals into smaller pieces that are easier to complete. There are going to be moments where they fail or struggle to adapt to change, so it’s important that they’re able to air their frustrations without giving up.

As a parent, it’s important to take note of the efforts your child makes and congratulate them on their progress so far. By seeing that you’re aware of their hard work, they’ll be more likely to stay the course – while also understanding that achieving a goal is a process.

Start Small but Think Big!

Setting goals is an important part of the development of every child. Whether it’s something small like cleaning their room or a long-term goal like acing English class, goals are what it means to grow. Fortunately, even the big goals start from small places! That’s why it’s important your child chooses something they care about so they will take the steps to get there.

If you’re trying to inspire goal-directed behavior in your child, there are a multitude of simple things you can do to help them succeed. By encouraging their efforts and measuring their progress towards their goal, they’ll be on their way to inspired achievement. It’s even possible that watching your child grow will motivate you to work towards your very own goals!


Parents. 7 Tips for Teaching Kids How to Set Goals (And Reach Them!). https://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/style/how-to-teach-kids-perseverance-goal-setting/

Big Life Journal. 4 Steps for Helping Your Child Set Effective Goals. https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/goal-setting-for-kids

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