Resolutions - Setting Goals With the Family


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“Draw a great picture and win a battery-operated fire truck” the T. V. loudly blared. That caught my son’s attention. “That shouldn’t be too hard, ” I thought as I began to make a plan of action. I decided to set a goal with my son to get the picture drawn and submitted in two weeks time. My son was ready and raring to go. Or was he?

Although I was sure my son wanted to win a toy fire-truck, I made a mistake when I tried to turn his fun into a goal-setting mission. However, we learned together through the experience and have, since then, been able to set other goals with good results for the whole family.

Here are some things we learned together:

1) Work with your child on the timing :: kids don’t have the same reference of time as we have. I made the mistake of setting a “two week” deadline for my son. He really didn’t understand the time reference anyway. It would have been easier for him if I had simply sat with him a few minutes each day with his drawing in front of him.

2) Write the goal down :: it is amazing how quickly we forget (both parents and kids) what the goal was, when it was made and why it was made. We all lost track of time on the drawing till I realized it was over six months since we had started the idea.

3) Make the goal relevant to your child’s personality and age :: my son dreams of becoming a fireman which is why winning a fire-truck seemed like a good goal. However, my son also grew quickly out of wanting that particular model of fire-truck. So we set another goal – that of learning to climb up poles. Climbing fits better to my son’s age and personality.

4) Work on the goal as a family :: I sat down with my son on the computer and visited the “fire-engine-contest” website. Online we downloading pictures already submitted for the contest. My son appreciated my interest and help.

5) Pray for it together :: after we learned how to set good goals, we decided to pray together for practical things and when problems or delays come up. Again, my son has the feeling I am interested but not trying to complete his goal for him.

6) Set the example :: my son is on the verge of being over-weight – not a good idea for would-be fire fighters. We decided that together we could loose some extra bulk. I made a list of “extras” that I wouldn’t eat for a while. It wasn’t long before he started offering to do without desert or extra portions. Again, I didn’t set a date for loosing weight; I simply showed him the good results week after week.

7) And most importantly – don’t give up. Children really appreciate having goals in their lives. My son never did submit the drawing for the battery operated fire-truck, but we decided to learn from the experience and set new goals. Now-a-days he paints pictures for birthdays and has entered other contests so the one bad experience obviously hasn’t put him off. Set goals and make resolutions with the family. It is good for everyone.

Ron Kernahan is a minister and author of several publications and web sites including “H5N1, avian (bird) flu and you. "


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