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Motivation: Teaching Your Child How to Create Smart Goals

Motivate Your Child with SMART Goals

Teaching your kids SMART goals will help you raise motivated children. Our parenting skills expert and author, Katherine Gordy Levine, is here to share her expertise. She'll discuss the acronym SMART from her kindle book, Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals. I'll suggest how to use it with your children.

Katherine tells us the word SMART for goal-setting was coined by George T. Doran in the 1980's. Here's Katherine's short version:

S = Specific

The S stands for making your goal specific. It won't work if it's vague like, "I want to be happy." To make it specific, you could write down, "I will smile at least 5x a day." Why? Smiling is a good way to lift one's spirit and it is specific.

M = Measurable

The M stands for measuring your progress. Katherine says almost anything can be counted and she shows several different counting methods. For the goal, "I will smile at least 5 times a day," a small chart for the week with tally marks for each smile each day would be sufficient.

"It's good to start with a baseline," says Katherine. She shows how to establish baselines in her book. A baseline is what the specific behavior to achieve is right now. If you know that you'll be able to measure progress once you start your goal.

A = Action oriented and Agreed upon

To make goals that require action, Katherine advises breaking them down into action steps. She uses the goal of becoming a teacher and gives 4 specific action steps like looking into colleges and their fees.

If a goal includes other people, it's important that they agree to the goal. She offers ways to measure others' motivation for achieving the goal.

R = Realistic

To be realistic you'll need the necessary resources to make it happen, like talent, money, time, motivation, and support. Katherine even offers a 3 point scale for determining how realistic your goal is. You'll love her 'strengths checklist' too.

T = Timely

Timely means setting a timeframe for achieving your goals. It could be just a few weeks or years in the case of a career goal.

Motivating Your Child to Create Smart Goals

I suggest asking your child what goal she'd like to achieve and then show her how to make it a SMART goal.

Let's say your child says, "I want to make friends." It's too vague and is more like a dream than a goal. Using SMART let's chunk it down and make it a realistic goal. To do this, brainstorm with your child the goal, how to measure it, the action steps to make it happen, decide if it's realistic, and the timeframe for achieving it.


A Sample Brainstorm for a SMART Goal

The Goal: I want to make 2 friends within 3 months.

The Action Steps: To achieve this I will take these action steps ~

1. Smile at the kids I'd like for friends and say, "Hi," whenever I see them.

2. Ask those kids if they'd like to play and have some fun games in mind.

3. Use their favorite word, their own names, whenever we talk.

4. Share toys with them.

5. Ask them questions about their favorite topic ~ themselves.

At the end of three months I will see if I have at least 2 friends. If I have 2 or more friends, I will keep doing my action steps because they worked. If not, I will think about what didn't work. I might change my behavior a little and add more action steps.


Can you see how much fun it could be to teach your kids SMART goals? Just discuss what SMART means by using Katherine's suggestions. Then start brainstorming with this tool.

Once they've set a goal, check in with them from time to time to see how they're doing. You'll be teaching them how to motivate themselves. They'll feel great achieving the goals they chose.

Let's THANK Katherine for sharing such an important method for achieving SMART goals. You'll find load of SMART tips in her book too.

Katherine Gordy Levine
Katherine Gordy Levine, MSS


Pick up your copy of   Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals. It will help you and your child live lives full of meaning and feel happier too.

Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your Goals_

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With warm wishes,

Jean Tracy, MSS

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