Everyone needs to have goals, and if one is too young to create their own goals – that becomes part of your job. The tough part of making goals for someone is remembering that you are building goals for them – not you. Just because you never got to play for the NHL or never learned how to play the piano, doesn’t mean you should schedule lessons for them today… When you think about setting goals for another, you should consider their interests, strengths, weaknesses… what end results you are looking for. For example – I simply want my boys to grow up to be happy and healthy men. Healthy means teaching them today how to pick smart foods and the importance of active play and fresh air (later we’ll worry about other health/safety topics such as those scary sex/drug conversations) … the goal of happy means becoming successful at whatever THEY choose for their future family/career goals. My job therefore is to teach them about the importance of family and stability. Please don’t mistake the word stability to mean rich – I truly don’t care if they choose a profession which never affords them a life filled with mansions and limos, I just want them to learn the skills to pay their bills and survive doing what makes them HAPPY. So how do I help them figure out what would make them happy? Well – I will try and offer them every opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills from various instruments and team work from different sports. We try to make them aware of different careers, and help them learn about whatever they find interest in (today it’s science – specifically animals, bugs, weather… we went where their minds went…).
Now, sometimes these simple plans are easier said than done. My boys have some challenges that make some group activities difficult, but that doesn’t mean I throw my hands up – it means I encourage them to try their best at each new activity and finish out the session, praising them for every accomplishment.
When one of my boys had difficulty at as a toddler during playgroups I was advised to just let him play at home – as that was the easy answer during that moment – but considering long term goals I knew that avoiding the obstacle was not going to help. So we pressed on and stayed as long as we could during each program, then tried again another time… but we never quit. We teach our boys that we finish out a program, then if they want to continue on with the next step great, and if not we try another activity next time. I have no idea what my boys will be when they grow up, and that’s how it should be (in my opinion). I know whatever direction chose will be one that fits them. So far they have plans for becoming an army guy, chef, rockstar, doctor, race-car-driver, a pastor and a flying super-hero… They are learning that to do any of those jobs they need to learn about those roles and practice the skills. With summer coming up there are lots of options for practicing skills. If you have the money look into different camp options that focus on your kids interests (sports camps, music camps, academic camps…); if you can’t afford that option develop a summer program for your child. There will be more about developing such programs in our upcoming blogs. If you’re around Traverse City (June 12) we’ll be hosting a family event where you can learn more about creating learning goals for kids. Register at http://www.mifamilies.com/mi-mini-camps