Having long term parenting goals and objectives is a must for any parent. Discover 8 examples of goals for kids to be able to do throughout childhood and beyond.
My husband saw me in the hallway with tears in my eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked in alarm.
“I’m sad that they’re going to kindergarten,” I sobbed back.
Emotional, I know. But as my twins wound down their last few weeks at preschool, I was reminded of how quickly childhood flashes by. As much as we wish for certain stages (ahem: tantrums) to end already, once you hit a milestone, you realize there’s no going back.
It’s moments like these that make you take stock of how far the kids have grown, and how much you’ve contributed to their growth.
Because if there’s one job we have, it’s to raise future adults. And ideally, a future adult who can expand and make the world a better place in the unique way only he or she can.
At the end of the day, our kids are who they are, regardless of what we do to shape their lives. But much of their “programming” is directly affected by how we raise them, from the words we use to the values we live by.
If I were to imagine sitting in front of my grown kids, I’d love for them to adopt the values that will serve them and others well. It’s not so much about which careers they choose or where they’ll live or how they’ll look, but simply… a way of being.
Take a look at these examples of parenting goals, and what I would love for my kids to grow into. As one parent said:
I also share ways that I’m teaching and applying these parenting goals and objectives, and how you can, too:
1. Teach essential life skills
I know I’m not the only parent who has tied her child’s shoelaces—even if she can do it himself—just to cut down on time.
As much as we’re tempted to, though, we need to allow our kids to do things for themselves. From tying shoelaces to managing their own homework and even to knowing how to talk to people, these skills pave the way for adulthood.
Your young child is ages away from adulthood, but these formative years make for the best “practice” ground. Encourage her to do things for herself and learn the life skills she’ll need as she grows up.
Even if she makes mistakes—which she will—at least the stakes are lower now than they will be when she’s an adult.
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2. Encourage empathy and respect for others
We’re all connected. Rather than teaching kids to be wary, disrespectful, or even oblivious to others, they can learn to show empathy and respect.
This means imagining what it must be like to be in other people’s shoes, or to be able to disagree without putting other people down. To remember that, deep within, we all have a heart, regardless of where life has taken us thus far.
And that friendship isn’t measured by the number of people you know, but by the quality and connection we have with others.
3. Embrace an abundance mindset
I want my kids to know that abundance is always available for them, and that they shouldn’t work from a lack or scarcity mindset.
Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we’re grateful for the abundance we do have, in both big and small ways. I steer clear of saying things like, “We can’t afford that,” and instead say, “I didn’t plan to buy that today.”
And once in a while, I give them treats, from a surprise bowl of ice cream to a day trip to the zoo.
This doesn’t mean you spoil your kids, focus on material items, or spend beyond your means. But it does mean planting the idea that there is plenty to go around, and eliminating limiting beliefs about what they can or can’t do.
The best way to nurture this mindset is to practice generosity. Think of prosperity as water: abundance isn’t about storing water in a jug and trying to make it last. Instead, abundance is like a river, where you can give as freely, knowing more is on its way.
4. Help your kids discover what they love
I used to believe that work was simply a means to an end, something you do so you have the resources to do what you actually want to do.
Now I know this doesn’t have to be the case—you truly can make a living doing something you enjoy. I’m fortunate that my husband and I can lead by example so that our kids can do the same for themselves when they’re adults.
Even if you don’t feel called to do your work, then share with your child how grateful you are to be able to work. Begrudging work only paints a negative picture on what to expect when she becomes contributing member of society.
Turn it around and encourage her to pursue her interests, no matter how unlikely or financially-limiting they may be. Anything is possible. Nurturing that desire will open more opportunities she never thought possible, instead of assuming the purpose of work is to get paid.
5. Raise kids driven to do what’s right
Too often, we praise kids for following the rules, that we overlook the importance of doing what’s right—even if that means going against the rules.
Maybe that means your child hangs back after recess ends to comfort a friend, even though that would make him late. Perhaps instead of telling on his brother for drawing on the table, he helps him erase it, knowing he’s had a rough day.
Rules exist to guide our kids to make the right choices, but sometimes the right thing to do can’t be defined within those rules. Instead, encourage critical thinking skills that allow him to consider his options before making a decision.
6. Nurture a love of learning
Does your child ever say:
Perhaps you’ve found her reading for a long time, drawing picture after picture, or exploring in the backyard. This is her natural love of learning in full force. Nurture her curiosity, especially in childhood, when it comes so easily and unhindered. You can:
- Embrace her interests, no matter how different or quirky they may be
- Provide plenty of downtime in your schedule
- Highlight the satisfaction of learning
- Focus on the process or the journey, not the end
- Embrace risk-taking and challenges
7. Expose your child to the world
Whether you live in a small town or a bustling city, it’s easy to remain only in that world. And for kids, this is even more alarming considering how limited their version of the world may be.
That’s why one of my long-term parenting goals is to expose my kids to the world. If I had it my way, I’d take them traveling all over the globe, but for now, I expose them to a wide variety of cultures, people, and environment through other ways.
- Eat different food from other cultures
- Read books about children from other parts of the world
- Attend cultural and musical festivals
- Take them to museums and galleries
- Travel in whatever ways you can
With a wider view of the world, kids learn to be more understanding, empathetic, and welcoming of others.
8. Show your kids they matter
At the end of the day, we all want to know we matter, including our kids. And as parents, we need to show them we love them unconditionally. They don’t have to do a single thing to deserve our love. They can behave or misbehave—we still love them no matter what.
Showing them they matter also means letting them know they’re special. That they have a unique contribution to this world that only they can do, and that no one else can ever replace them. Let them know what you especially love about them, and the difference they make in other people’s lives.
This really works! In fact, check out the a-ha moment that reader @4thisiprayed described on Instagram from applying this concept:
“Sometimes it gets challenging being a parent (currently ushering in a threenager), but I’m trying to find ways to parent more effectively so I bought some material by @sleepingshouldbeeasy and in one reading, I realized your kids need to know that you are in love with being their momma and that you are there no matter what. Put yourself in their shoes and think about the fact that when you, as an adult, are acting out sometimes…that is usually when you need someone the most. That changed a bad day yesterday to a good day today.”
Just as we would set goals in other areas of our lives—work, health, money—so too should we do the same with parenting. And more specifically, what we’re doing now to raise the future adults we would love to know.
It starts with teaching your child the life skills he’ll need as an adult, and encouraging healthy relationships with others. Show him that it’s possible to do work you love and to relish in the abundance that’s available to us all.
Nurture a love of learning that’s already inherent in him, especially by exposing him to the wider world. Focus on doing what’s right, even when it’s hard. And finally, remind him that they matter, no matter what.
Parenting goals like these keep me in check. They show me whether I’m doing my job, and that tantrums and spills on the floor don’t matter nearly as much as who my kids are being.
Get more tips about setting parenting goals:
- 7 Positive Parenting Skills All Moms Need to Have
- Easy! 12 Ways to Teach Preschoolers about Money
- Amazing Family Conversation Starters to Try Right Now
- Top 5 Parenting Myths: Are You Making These Mistakes?
- How to Foster Independence in Your Toddler
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