Helping Your Children Make and Complete Goals

    By Amie Leavitt

    The new Children and Youth program invites participants to make and complete goals in four different categories: spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual. Setting the right goals and achieving them, however, will take some prayerful consideration, guidance from the Holy Ghost, and help and support from loving parents and leaders.

    Here are four ways you as a parent can help:

    1. Consider the age and maturity of your children.

    As your children set goals, counsel with them. Be mindful of their age, maturity, and skill level. Determine how much assistance they might need and what they can do for themselves. Remind them that the pursuit of their goals is a learning process and may take multiple attempts and time to achieve.

    For example, if younger children want to learn how to make cookies, determine what their capabilities are and help accordingly. They might need your help to measure ingredients, mix the dough, and operate the oven.

    But remember that your children should be working on their own as much as they can. Which brings us to …

    2. Recognize that your children are individuals who need to learn and grow.

    Elder David A. Bednar explained in a 2001 Brigham Young University–Idaho devotional that through the enabling power of Jesus Christ we become “agents who ‘act’ rather than objects that are ‘acted upon’ (2 Nephi 2:14)”.1 When your children set appropriate goals, prayerfully support them to be “agents unto themselves” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:28) and act on their own to achieve their goals.

    Of course, they are likely to make mistakes along the way, but that’s okay. It’s through the mistakes, stumbling blocks, and challenges that they’ll likely learn the most. For that reason, avoid jumping in too soon to help. Allow children a chance to learn and grow through natural consequences. You can also teach them to find additional comfort and support from Jesus Christ.

    3. Check in with your children often about their goals.

    Ask them about their progress. What are they learning, and what challenges are they experiencing? Show genuine interest in the things they are working on—and in their feelings. Celebrate with them when they make progress on their goals, especially when they keep trying after a setback. If you feel prompted by the Holy Ghost, consider sharing your own experiences of trying to reach goals and how you worked through difficult times. Ask if there’s anything they need help with, but respect them if the answer is no.

    And remember that they should be doing most of the talking. When in doubt, listen.

    4. Have faith and hope in Heavenly Father.

    Remember—Heavenly Father is on your side. He wants you and your children to succeed. As you turn to Him, you can count on help from Him who knows the best way to aid your family.

    Looking for more ideas? Try this.

    • Hold a brainstorming session. Sit down with your children one-on-one and ask them about the goals they would like to set in each of the four areas of personal development: spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual. Help them with possible ideas if they are having difficulty coming up with their own. Guide them to select goals that are exciting and interesting but also appropriate for their age and maturity level.
    • Learn more about self-reliance. Read or listen to “Becoming Self-Reliant2 by Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Consider what he teaches about self-reliance, especially the way the Lord helped Nephi but then “stepped aside to allow one of His sons to exercise his own initiative.” Apply these teachings to your own situation as you support your children in their personal development.

    Notes

    1. David A. Bednar, “In the Strength of the Lord” (Brigham Young University–Idaho devotional, Oct. 23, 2001), 4, speeches.byu.edu.
    2. L. Tom Perry, “Becoming Self-Reliant,Ensign, Nov. 1991, 64.

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