Setting goals teenagersThe beginning of a new year is a perfect time for setting goals. With teens it may mean something a bit. Right now they are busy in school, keeping up with assignments, some are working jobs, playing school sports or participating in other school activities, while many are learning to drive. The thought of adding one more thing to their “To Do List” may seem overwhelming.

As their parent or guardian, you may need to approach this topic in a completely different way. One, you need to consider yourself to be more of a consultant than the parent-director. Most teens don’t want to be told what types of goals they should set, much less told how to do it. Two, teens are more personally motivated if the goal is something that they want to work on. Three, as hard as it may be for you, let them “drive the bus” on how they want to achieve the goal. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make suggestions or give advice when needed, but it does mean letting them take charge of themselves.

So just what just what can you do? A good place to start is to use the New Year as an opportunity to discuss areas at school and at home that can be improved upon. If you get some resistance to these two areas, why not make it about something personal that they would like to work on. Some suggestions are:

1- Learn Something New
Learning a new skill can help them open up into many new areas, or as I like to say, “get out of their comfort zone.” It may help in meeting new people and boost their confidence. Learning something new doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment either. If they end up not liking what they chose, try something different. Some ideas might be:

* Cooking
* Drawing or painting
* Playing a new sport
* Writing in a journal or writing a story
* Hiking

The possibilities are endless. In my book, Hey! All Kids Are Smart there are many ideas and suggestions of where to begin and a plan of action too. There is also a FREE Interest Survey on my website,, if your teen isn’t sure what they would like to do. This takes a lot of the guess work out of the process.

2- Personal Health
Maybe they would like to exercise more or eat healthier. This is always a popular one.
3- Take Some Personal time
It seems like we are always on the go. Maybe your teen is involved in many different activities and learning how to fit in some personal time would be a great goal.
4- Earn Some Money
Does your teen have a job? If not, maybe they would like to buy something and can’t afford it. They could look around in their community/neighborhood and look for some short-term ways to make money.

There are two boys who live in my neighborhood who began mowing my lawn once a week two years ago. This last year they gave “their business” a name. They call themselves the “Mow Pros.” They make enough money working in one summer to give them the extra spending money they want while they are in school.

Tips for Success

* Be specific. Resolutions/goals are more solid if they are written down.
* Make it measurable. Have them set deadlines for each step they need in order to accomplish their goal. The time they set needs to be realistic.
* KEEP IT SIMPLE! The goal needs to be realistic and within your teen’s control. You want them to feel good about themselves while working towards their goal.
* The motivation factor. They need to realize that a time may come up when they are struggling to reach their goal or may start losing interest in it. Plan ahead for what can be done should this arise.
* Celebrate. When the goal has been reached, encourage your teen to share what they did with others such as: relatives and friends. Make sure you congratulate them on their success too!
* Reflect. Talk with your teen about what they enjoyed most about achieving their goal. It is also just as important to talk about what they would have done differently.

By encouraging your teen to set New Year’s Resolutions/goals, especially if it is one they have chosen, they will gain knowledge, experience, and most importantly, the confidence that they can do this. Having this new found confidence, they will not be afraid to try setting new goals on their own. By learning how to set and achieve goals at a younger age, it becomes a lifelong skill and a formula for future success.

So what are you waiting for? Go sit down and talk with your teen about setting goals!