It seems only fitting, in order to form the skills for Life, to further cement the importance of setting goals for these skills. Happy Reading!!
TEACHING THE JOY OF ORDER, PRIORITIES & GOAL STRIVING
A speaker impressed me once with an uncommon answer to a common question. The question posed to him was, “With all you have to do, how do you look so relaxed?” (The boy who asked the question went on, partly for humour, partly for impact, to say that his father didn’t have nearly as much responsibility, yet always looked frazzled & tired.) The answer was, “Each week, on a certain day at a certain time, I spend some time alone, setting goals for the week. I follow the priorities of family first, others second, myself third. I set objectives in each area, & if time is too short to do all I want to do, I put my goals into priority order so that I know the most important ones will get done. Then I plan how, & write my plans into my weekly calendar book.”
Most anxiety comes from wondering where we should be or what we ought to be doing. Most joy comes from knowing both.
The joy of goal striving & achievement is like a diamond with many facets, each one a separate & distinct joy. There is the joy of knowing our long-range purpose, the joy of responsibility, the joy of shorter-range goals, the joy of causes & commitment, the joy of organisation & order, even the joy of failing occasionally & of sometimes making mistakes.
Understanding the concept of goals. A three- or four-year-old is capable of understanding the concept & nature of goals. Explain that a goal is “something good that we want & that we work for.”
Experiencing a goal. A three- or four-year-old can experience the joy of setting & achieving a simple goal. Ask the child if he can think of a goal for himself. Help him decide on one. It might be self-improvement: Learning to zip his coat, flush the toilet, or walk across the street safely. It might be solving a problem: Not getting so dirty at school or not sucking his thumb any more. It might be making a new friend or earning money to buy something special.
Write the goal down & put a big circle by it. Periodically, as the goal is achieved, let the child fill in part of the circle. (When the goal is half completed, the circle will be half filled in.)
Help the child develop a plan to meet his goal, such as asking the neighbours if they need work done, trying to zip his coat each night before he goes to bed, not kneeling down in the dirt, inviting a new child over to play, or putting his blanket away etc.
Praise the setting of the goal, praise the plan, praise every step the child takes toward the goal.
Feel the joy of setting goals & working together. These might be anything worthwhile, from reading a book to doing the Spring housecleaning together as a family. Involve the children. Write down the goal & plan it first together, go to work on it & then discuss the results of each phase–how you are going, how it makes you feel as each part is achieved.
1. Together, do the kinds of chores in which results are visible, such as pulling weeds, washing windows, raking leaves, or waxing the floor or car. Part of the joy comes from seeing the result.
2. Have family jobs & responsibilities for each family member. For example, a little child can be in charge of clearing off the dishes after Sunday dinner. Again, lavish praise on the child, saying, “Doesn’t that look nice?” Make a chart showing each family member’s responsibility, & discuss these responsibilities as a family.
Teach the law of the harvest. There is security in knowing you will reap what you plant. Teach this joy by actually sowing & actually reaping. Have a garden. Let the children plant, weed, water & harvest. Then use the example of the garden as a way to explain many things: How brushing the teeth grow up into the joy of no cavities, how kind deeds grow up into the joy of happy feelings, how selfish deeds grow up like weeds to choke the family.
Organisation & order. Have a good set of shelves in a child’s room. Help him organise his possessions, with a place for each item. Then give strong encouragement & praise as he keeps things in their places. The simple lessons of order in a child’s life will go a long way in building the critical, later-life skill of organising his thoughts & ideas.
Gather the children in the middle of the room on the floor & tell them you want to see if they know what two words mean. The first word is mess. Ask them what it means. Then talk about how unpleasant it is when things are messy & how easy it is to lose things when there is a mess.
Then tell them the next word is order. Explain to them that order is when there is no mess. Things are in their places, nothing is lost, everything is neat & clean & tidy. Talk for awhile about how nice order is & how bad mess is.
Then tell the children you are going to tell them a secret about order. It is an important secret, & they should remember it. Get them to lean very close so they can hear you whisper. Then say, “Things will always stay in order if you take only one plaything at a time & put it back in its place before you take another out.” Repeat this a couple of times.
The joy of mistakes & failure. Discuss your own failures. Show your children that you are not perfect, but that you accept your failings & try to learn from them. The key here is simple: Praise them as much when they fail as when they succeed. Praise the try, not the result.
Share some of your goals with your children. The fact that you are reading this book probably indicates that you have a goal of being a better parent. Why not share that goal with your children? Tell them that your goal is to be the best daddy or mommy, & that you need their help on your goal, that you want them to tell you how you can improve.