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How to Teach Your Child to Set & Achieve Goals! Part 2 of 2

                                                                                                                                           By Judy Flury, Ph.D.



We went through the goal setting system last time. Now this time, let's look at 2 powerful tips that will help you and your child to be super successful with this system! 

1. To make the process more effective, it’s helpful to have your child write each of their goals on an index card, or write each on a separate notebook page, and then find

pictures that depict their goal, and paste these pictures either on the back of your goal card, or onto the notebook paper.  You can find pictures in magazines, newspapers,

with a Google image search (, and so on. 

 Your mind thinks in pictures.  When you think about your goal, watch what happens.  You don’t conceive of your goal in words -- you see it as pictures.  You see yourself scoring the goal and everyone cheering for you, you picture an “A” written on your test paper, you see an image of your dream house, etc.  Showing yourself pictures of your goal each day is a very, very powerful motivator to keep yourself on track in doing the work that needs to be done in order to reach that goal -- plus it sets your subconscious in motion helping you derive ways to meet this goal.

2.  For children in particular, one of the things that can derail their goal-setting efforts is if they are not seeing gratification quickly enough.  They need to be shown that they

are indeed making mid-stage progress.  A very powerful technique to accomplish this is to draw a ladder to the side of each written goal, and label each rung with mid-

steps, so that they can color in that rung when they get to it.  That way they will see themselves “climbing” the ladder and getting closer and closer to the top!

For example, if their goal is to get to the next level in their favorite video game (remember, at the beginning, what the goal is doesn’t matter!  All that matters is that they get excited about the process of goal-setting once they see what it can do for them), then for each rung of the ladder, you might write in mid-range point intervals.  If the next level in the game is 200 points away from their current high score, then their ladder could have five rungs, at 40-point intervals.  If their goal is to save enough money to buy a $300 item, then the rungs of the ladder would have incremental dollar amounts. They might draw a ladder with rungs in $25.00 increments, for example, and color in each rung as their savings accumulate to $25.00, then to $50.00, then to $75.00, and so on. 

Seeing their progress visually motivates children to keep going.  (Hint: this also works amazingly well for adults!)

Effective goal-setting can do amazing things for anyone who makes it a regular part of their routine - adults and children alike.  Starting small and making goal-setting an ingrained habit will lead to larger and more long-term goals such as finishing that novel, becoming the top-scorer on the team, getting that dream job, getting into Harvard, and so on! 

 Goal setting is such an important life skill that it is an integral part of what we teach in the children’s program at my martial art center. Our students recite the following “student creed” at every class:

The Student Creed at My Martial Art Center:


We are THE BEST!

We Never Give Up!

Hard Work Pays Off!

You are The One!

For the line “you are the one!”, I teach my students that this means that YOU and ONLY YOU are responsible for your success. This doesn’t just means to take care of your things and not blame others for your mistakes or shortcomings; but rather, it means much more than that - it means that they are responsible for achieving what they want out of.  It means that they need to engineer their own future, and live with purpose.  Goal setting is an integral part of doing so.  

 In addition, martial arts training gives children clear benchmarks of escalating progress, that are not found in most other activities.  Students continually work for their next belt color or stripe.  They don’t come to class just to be there -- at each class session, they’re working towards their next goal -- their next belt or stripe.  Martial arts can be seen as one big goal-setting and goal-achievement system!

Achieving great things takes tremendous focus, hard work, dedication, commitment, and a concrete plan.  Much of that has to come from your child -- you can only do so much; but one of the most impactful things you can do for them in this regard is to show them the “magic” of goal-setting, teach them the process, and help them make it a strong, second-nature habit while they are still young!  

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