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Helping a Teen Stick to a Goal

by Maggie McCormick, studioD

As a parent, you want to see your child succeed, so when your teen starts setting goals, you feel like rejoicing. Goal setting is just the first step, so you need to be there to offer the support your child needs, while sitting back and letting her do her thing as well.

Planning Help

In many cases, your teen may be taking his first steps toward goal planning. He may have an idea of what to accomplish, but not know how to get there. With your experience, you can step in and help him forge the path. Show him how to break the goal into smaller steps that he must achieve and schedule the time to complete those tasks. If he wants to get into the college of his choice, he needs to set aside time to complete homework, study for the SAT and prepare thoughtful college applications.

Emotional Support

Your teen needs to know that you're on her side. This includes cheering on her successes as well as talking through her disappointments. Set her up for success and don't distract her from reaching her goals. If she's trying to eat healthier foods, for example, you shouldn't offer her candy or ice cream.

Practical Support

Many teens require a lot of practical support in order to meet their goals as well, and this support is likely going to cost you time and money. A child trying to make the football team will need you to purchase special equipment and drive him to practice, while a student trying to ace the SAT might appreciate a private tutor. It's always smart to ask him how you can be most helpful in reaching his goals.

Help Quitting

Sometimes, a teen simply takes on too much, making it difficult for her to meet any of her goals. While you don't want her to make quitting goals a habit, learning when to cut your losses so that you can truly excel at something else is an important life skill. If you see your teen floundering, help her identify which of her goals are most important and pare down the ones that aren't as essential. This will free up her schedule so that she can better focus.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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