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 wind down their last few weeks at preschool, I’m 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 parents have, it’s to raise future adults. And ideally, a future adult who can expand and contribute to the world in the unique way only he or she can.
Parenting goals in bringing up your child
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 certain values that I hope will serve them 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 eight parenting goals examples, and what I would love for my kids to grow into. As one parent said about the article:
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 he 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 five-year-old is ages away from adulthood, but these formative years make for the best “practice” ground. Encourage your child to do things for himself and learn the life skills he’ll need as he grows up.
Even if he makes mistakes—which he will—at least the stakes are lower now than they will be when he’s an adult.
2. Encourage empathy and respect for others
We’re all connected, and rather than teaching kids to be wary, disrespectful, or even oblivious to others, I want them to extend 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 trip to the ice cream store, to nice seats at a Broadway musical.
This doesn’t mean you spoil your kids, focus on material items, or spend beyond your means—that’s simply irresponsible. But it does mean planting the idea that anything is possible, and eliminating any limiting beliefs about what they can or can’t do.
At the same time, I want them to generous as well. Think of prosperity as water. Abundance isn’t about storing it up in a water jug and trying to make that water last. Instead, abundance is like a river, where you can give as freely, knowing more is on its way.
4. Help your kids find work 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 like.
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 I can lead by example and share with my kids how much I love what I do, so that they can do the same for themselves.
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. Too many of us begrudge work, which only paints a negative picture for your kids on what to expect when they become contributing members of society.
Turn it around and encourage them to pursue their interests, no matter how unlikely or financially-limiting those interests may be.
Anything is possible. Nurturing that desire in your kids will open more opportunities you 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 so much 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 her late. Perhaps instead of telling on her brother for drawing on the table, she 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 kids to ponder their options first before making a decision.
6. Nurture a love of learning
Do your kids ever say:
Perhaps you’ve found them parked on the couch, reading for a long time, or drawing comic after comic, or exploring in the backyard.
This is their natural love of learning in full force. Nurture that love of learning, especially in childhood, when it comes so easily and unhindered. You can:
- Embrace their 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 in that world and nothing else. 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 your kids 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 goals. And more specifically, what we’re doing now to raise the future adults we would love to know.
It starts with teaching kids the life skills and self-sufficiency they’ll need as an adult, and encouraging healthy relationships with others. Show your child it’s totally possible to do work you love and to relish in the abundance that’s available to all of us.
Nurture a love of learning that’s already inherent in them, especially by exposing them to the wider world. Focus on raising kids driven to do what’s right, even when it’s hard. And finally, remind them 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.
Especially as they make their way to kindergarten, which is yet another reminder of how short these years truly can feel.
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
5-Day Parenting Challenge
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Over the course of 5 days, we’ll tackle one actionable tip per day you can implement right away that will drastically transform the way you raise your child, in ways you never imagined. This is your chance to challenge yourself and make the changes you’ve been meaning to make. As one parent said:
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