The New Year is around the corner and after the year we've had, we can all hope for a better one in 2021.
No better time like the present to help your child work on two key skills for self-awareness and personal growth:
People love to set New Year's resolutions and as most are aware, they stick for about 4-6 weeks and then fall off the handle. There are a few problems that can explain this, most importantly, a lack of self-reflection and a lack of proper goal setting skills.
In order to set proper goals, one must first do some self-reflection on where they are at currently. Take a good, hard, honest look in the mirror at yourself and the things you rock at, and the things you suck at (don't get mad at me - we all can't be great at everything and we all have our flaws!). We have to teach our kids to do the same! They need learn to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and acknowledge their imperfections. Not only acknowledge them but OWN them!
So before setting your family resolutions, take some time to reflect on this wacky year. Especially with the nightmare of COVID, kids need time to look back and process all that has happened. How did they feel in March when the world stopped? How did they feel adjusting to virtual school? How did they feel over the summer? Did they get much of a summer? Did plans change? How did they feel returning back to school in the fall? How did they adjust to wearing masks at school or continuing to learn from home? Now that Winter Break is approaching, how do they feel right now? What parts of 2020 were good or bad? Scary? New? Exciting? Interesting? Different? What skills did they develop over the year? Which skills fell behind due to all of the disruptions to typical learning? Strengths and weaknesses?
These conversations will allow your children to go back to certain points throughout the year and reflect on the ups and downs, ins and outs, and loop-de-loops. After realizing where they are at, they can then start to plan ahead for where they want to go.
Now that your child has a better understanding of where they stand, they should be able to pin point certain areas of their lives to set goals for. Social, Academic and Personal are the three areas I like to focus on with my students).
Social - Goals that involve maintaining and building relationships with others (family, friends, peers, teachers, etc.). A social goal may be something like, "I want to schedule a Zoom call with one friend and one extended family member each weekend."
Academic - Goals that pertain to specific subject areas or concepts. An academic goal may be something like, "I want to read for 15 minutes each weeknight for the entire month of February" or "I want to score an average of XX on my next three math tests".
Personal - Goals that involve individual lifestyle choices or hobbies. A personal goal may be something like, "I want to walk to school a minimum of 3 days per week" or "I want to get my brown belt by the end of the school year".
Help your child develop SMART goals.
SMART goals help us zero in on what we really want to achieve and increase chances of success by sticking within these guidelines.
Specific - "I want to do better at math" is not a specific goal and is therefore, likely to go unfulfilled. Narrow in on the skill or concept as much as possible!
Measurable - Ensure that there is a way to track your goal in a quantitative way. You'll notice in my examples above that they are each measurable (15 minutes of reading per weeknight, a minimum of 3 days/week walking to school, etc.)
Attainable - Make sure that the goal is reasonable and actually attainable. My karate goal example is attainable if the person is actually working towards their brown belt in this term. If they have never stepped foot in a Karate Dojo before, it will not be likely that they will attain their brown belt, so perhaps a yellow belt goal is more attainable. The outcomes need to be realistic and within reach.
Relevant - The goals should make sense in your life and within your current situation. For example, a social goal should not be to plan and host a sleepover party with 10 friends in the next month since it is not within the current COVID rules/recommendations.
Time-Based - Goals should have a time limit or end-date. Having a sense of when you want to accomplish the goal makes it that much more likely that you will work towards it with more motivation and commitment.
We've made our goals, now what?
Create an action plan together - what steps will you take in order to reach your goal? Set reminders, use calendars and post the goal somewhere that is visible as a reminder (a desk or bedroom wall is a great place!). Lastly, create a reminder to check in halfway between setting the goal and the end of the goal's timeline. If the goals are on track - great! If not, make a new plan to get back on track. Create one more reminder for the end of the timeline and reflect once more - was the goal reached? Adapt or change the plan as needed and commit to smashing goals in 2021!
Here are some great printable and digital resources I found that you can use at home!
2020 Year In Review (digital)
2021 New Year's Resolutions (digital and printable options)
2020 Reflections and Goal Setting (printable)
Happy Goal Setting and HAPPY NEW YEAR!