Teaching Teens: 4 Ways to Give Your Child Direction by Setting Goals

It is important to instill in your children the fact that life moves ahead regardless of their involvement, but there is much power in taking command of the direction they go by learning to set appropriate and effective goals. All children dream of being something special when they grow up. The roles they dream about achieving depend on cultural and family influences, but they are usually ones that have something to do with adventure, authority, prestige and being able to help others. This is why astronauts, police officers, firefighters, doctors, actors, singers and musicians remain perpetually at the top of the list of things kids want to be when they grow up. Here are four ways to give your children the goal-setting direction they need.

Do Not Give Them Everything

You want your children to have more than you did growing up. You may remember the feeling of being told you cannot have something that others had due to financial issues in the family or the choices of your parents. However, it is not good to just give your children every little thing they ask for. They need to establish early in life that if you want something, you need to work to get it. This can be something as simple as saving part of an allowance to make a bigger purchase. Not only can it establish following through on a goal that was set, it teaches an appreciation for the cost that goes into acquiring things.

Short and Long-term Goals

High school and college students just do not know what they need to know about personal finances. It is not being taught to any great degree in schools. The topic is largely left up to the parents to teach, and that is okay as long as you are taking the time to teach it. This includes short term goal setting for buying that new electronic gadget as well as putting away money for future education needs. A month of saving money may seem like years to the perspective of a child, but the value of time when combined with money should be taught by establishing a savings account. The piggy bank may be a good choice for saving for a night at the mall with friends, but learning the facts about compound interest over time should be established as early as possible as it is this ability to grow money that is the foundation of retirement.

Teach the Business Side of Things That Your Children Want to Pursue

How many teenagers who got an electric guitar for a gift and were dreaming of becoming a rock star actually made it to the big time? The dreams come, but the amount of work it takes to realize any dream can be daunting. Plus, even if your children are committed to pursuing specific dreams, they need to learn the steps needed to achieve them. For example, formal playing and singing lessons are a minimum requirement for a singer/songwriter. Learning how to copyright songs, select band members, and establish a contract. Other things, like learning how to trademark your band name is an important skill that is never too early to learn. Most any goal is achievable if the proper steps are taken to achieve it.

Teach Overcoming Setbacks

Failing attempts to achieve a goal and being rejected are part of the process. It is critically important to teach your children not to give up on a goal just because things are not working out the way they thought they would. If you recognize a real passion and natural ability, it should be fostered into something that can produce a lifelong opportunity to succeed at it. Give examples of setbacks and rejections for the goals your children are trying to reach. The world abounds in stories of multiple failed attempts that then resulted in life-changing and even world-changing successes. Teach your children to expect setbacks and rejections and to have plans in place to deal with them.

No one strives for mediocrity, but the majority of people unintentionally achieve that goal. Goals set a course of direction and help with developing the drive to get from one place to another. Goals can change as circumstances change, but the drive to keep on moving ahead should never cease. Sometimes the best teaching you can provide as a parent who is attempting to teach direction by setting goals is to live that example yourself.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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