Navigating Goal Setting with Pre-Teens
I feel like more than ever, Todd and I are constantly aware of the changing seasons in our family. With our oldest being 12 and entered 7th grade, and our youngest just turning 3, we feel the changing tides. For what felt like FOREVER…we were having and raising babies and toddlers. For 11.5 years I was buying diapers, the crib was up, the maternity and baby clothes were in a closet or stashed away for later, and all plans revolved around somebody’s nap schedule. Our first 4 came in 6 years and the last one came just under 3 years later (SURPRISE!)😆 But after having 5 babies, I can TRULY say, I’m ready to turn the page. I’m ready to move on and in some ways, we are truly seeing the fruit of that.
Our kids can be great helpers. We just eliminated diapers and the crib and Gracelyn only needs occasional naps. We can stay out later at friends’ houses and it’s easier to go out to eat as a family (note I said easi-ER, not EASY!) We’re looking forward to going on a bigger vacation next year as a family and I am no longer carrying a diaper bag fully stocked with ALL the things! I can give them chores and lists and with some prompting, they get it done. In general, our kids are just at really fun ages – they are fun to be with, you can have conversations with them, and they make us laugh a lot!
But our oldest is also on the climb into teen life and she’d love to just jump right in. She does not yet have her own phone (we are holding off on that until she goes to high school – at least that’s our goal!), but she has a pretty active social life, she’s involved in all the sports, and she’s developing opinions and ideas of her own. Slowly I can see that mom and dad are getting less cool while the importance of her friends and their opinions is skyrocketing. There are about 100 different activities that they CAN be involved in, and often it’s hard to know what to do b/c it’s all a time and financial investment. Recently we were talking with Avery about what she wants to invest her time into because we all know there is a difference in what we SAY we want to do and what we actually DO! As we were prompting her to get her basketball shots in (she’s part of a 10,000 shot club program, so she needs to get in 10,000 shots this summer), she was pushing back a bit on us. She didn’t feel like it, and we get that. She’s had a super active summer with softball, volleyball lessons, open gyms, swimming lessons, and camps. I honestly don’t blame her for not feeling like it.
I’ll add that we love sports, but I do think there is so much pressure on kids to perfect a sport (which involves year-round play) vs playing one sport in its season. At her age, she loves it all, and it’s hard to know where to focus her time. Todd and I don’t care if she decides to drop a sport or if she decides not to play one. But we do want to teach her self-discipline and how to work hard. If her expectation is to play or make a team someday, we want to teach her that she will have to work at it. If she doesn’t work at it, it’s not actually that valuable to her.
As we were talking with her about this, we wanted her to reflect on what her goals were, b/c so often in the day-to-day, we don’t feel like doing something b/c at the moment, our goals are far off and we’re going to choose the easier option. I also don’t want her goals to be swayed by anyone else – what her friends are doing, what she thinks she “should” do, or what she thinks we want her to do. She really hadn’t set any goals before, so I got her a notepad and told her to spend 15-30 min thinking through what her goals would be long-term (for her, that’s high school b/c who can think beyond that when you’re 12?). I had no idea what she’d write b/c in fact, she was in a pretty grumpy, negative mood as we were talking about this, and she really thought it was kind of a dumb idea 😉 lol.
But…later that night she came back with her list of goals and shared them with us. She was actually much more positive and had new energy to her. In all honesty, she picked some lofty goals! 😄 But I was actually really proud of her that she took the time to process it and she didn’t just pick goals that would be easily attainable! She picked some goals that would require work and time investment. But…from those goals, we can now help her make a plan towards achieving them, and when we are holding her accountable to get her work in, she knows she can’t complain b/c she’s the one who set the goals…not us. In general, her attitude in getting her work done since then has been MUCH better, and we’ve talked about developing systems to do the work b/c a goal is only as good as the system used to attain it.
Having her write goals was a practical way for her to make a roadmap of her time, intention, and to see that this daily work is important in achieving a goal, however lofty or far off it may be. And it helped our relationship b/c now when we encourage her to get her shots in or go work on her volleyball lesson, she’s reminded of her goals. Whether she actually achieves them someday is really of little importance to us. But I don’t want her to get there someday and think, “I wish I would have put in the work, but I didn’t.” I want her to think, “I did everything I could, and I’m proud of the work that I did. I gave it my all.” It’s in her doing the daily work and doing hard things even when she doesn’t feel like it that she will develop skills that will help her for a lifetime. More than anything, we pray that it develops a mindset of relying on the Lord when she is feeling weak, of remembering that even when she is getting in her shots she can give Him glory, of choosing a positive vs. a negative attitude, and of not having to do things perfectly but instead putting in the effort, hard work, and consistency. These are the things that I pray carry over to life well beyond her years in junior high or high school.
Have you set goals with your kids? I’d love to hear about it and what has worked well for you!