How Goal Setting with your Tween can Build Connection

How Goal Setting with your Tween can Build Connection

Goal setting is something that it really important to me. I think I love goal setting because is it an opportunity to get a big picture look at where I am at and dream big for where I want to be.

I am all about action, and goals are the action we take to live the life we want.positive parenting tween

As we head in to this New Year, I am finding myself really wanting to support my (almost) 12-year-old daughter in setting some goals.

It’s not so much the goals that I want her to focus on, but rather that process of taking stock and looking ahead.

Now, my daughter isn’t always super game to go along with all of my warm and fuzzy, relationship building shenanigans… So I knew that I would need to approach this whole goal setting biz-ness in a way that seems cool to her (because she is at an age where she doesn’t realize that everything I do already is cool).

There is a tool I created to start us off – I’m calling it the Pre-Teen Wheel of Life and modified it from its original version used far and wide by many coaches:

Tween Wheel of Life

I showed her this model and let her know we would be using it as a tool… She seemed genuinely open and excited to do this together, which left me hopeful.

The time finally came where we had the opportunity to go through this process. It was such a great reminder that focusing on things like goals and dreams is a powerful way to get a glimpse into the mind of my growing child. I made a point of letting her know that the idea wasn’t for her to say what she though I wanted to hear, instead it was all about her and the action she wanted to take to design her life.

She gave herself scores on all the parts of the wheel. The lowest score she gave was in the “Home” category. I had explained to her that this was about how she felt about her personal space, as well as the community space that we shared.

When I asked her about the score she gave for this, she responded by saying, “I don’t feel like a do a good job of getting my stuff done.” To dig deeper and to help her get some clarity around this I said, “Tell me more about that.”

This is where the goal setting got real. It is so easy to elicit broad answers from our kids – answers that don’t really have any meat to them. Responses like, “I’ll do better” or “I’ll try harder.” I don’t know about you, but these statements mean very little to me. I just don’t buy it – it’s lip service.

But this process that I went through with my daughter allowed her to get really clear. Getting my stuff done was widdled down to I would really like my room to be clean, which was then turned into an action plan, including, make my bed before school, put my clothes away after I take them off, do my laundry two times/week.

Holy smokes. Well, that certainly sounds good to me.

Another are that she wanted to focus on was family. “I want to spend more alone time with you and dad…” I love this. What an incredible opportunity for her to let me know what she is needing from us.

When we spoke more at length about this, having some “special time” every week with one parent is what she was requesting. I then asked her what action she could take to see that this happens and she realized that she could be a part of the planning process.

What a gift for her to have the space and the language to share this with me.

She also shared that she would like to make an effort to get along better with her younger brother – “Less fighting with Ian” was what she shared. Again, I probed deeper and said, “Tell me what that looks like…” She got a sheepish look on her face and responded with “Don’t bait him.”

Ha! This sounded familiar (something I say frequently to her)… “And walk away when I feel mad…” she continued. This is where the coach inside of me got really excited because it was an opportunity explore her inner experience – yayyyy!!!

“What do you notice inside of your body when you start to feel mad? What happens?” I casually asked…

She gave me a little smirk – yes love, I am taking you there – and said, “My face gets hot, that’s the first thing that happens… And I want to hit Ian… And my jaw feels weird, tight…”

Yes!!! I love that she was able to identify this for herself! Our body gives us signals all the time about what is going on for us, and is so powerful to share the practice and language of recognizing our physical experience with our kids.

“So when you notice this happening…” I started to say, “I should walk away from Ian,” she finished for me.

Love it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that just because we have been through this process doesn’t mean she will follow through perfectly with what she said she would do. She’s (almost) 12. What we’ve started here is a conversation. A conversation about what she wants. A conversation which allows her explore and to share what she needs.

I have no doubt that we will revisit this plan of hers throughout the year. She is planning on typing it up and posting it in her room as a reminder. I will be sure to check in with her, maintaining curiosity and non-judgment, and let her know I am here for support if she’d like to go through the process again.

The beautiful bonus of this experience was the opportunity for relationship building that showed up as we did this together. She is getting older and isn’t quick to open up to me. Like I mentioned above, I was able to get a glimpse into her world, from her perspective, and it was a huge gift.

I would love to hear how you teach your kids about goal setting… Feel free to share in the comments below!

Smiles, Casey

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Casey is a wife, mother, Certified Positive Discipline Trainer and life coach. She has a BA in Sociology from the University of Arizona, and earned a M.Ed from the University of Washington. She teaches teachers and parents all about how to build stronger, more authentic relationships with the children in their lives. Casey blogs and teaches parenting classes at Joyful Courage.

Latest posts by Casey O'Roarty, M.Ed. (see all)

2 Responses to How Goal Setting with your Tween can Build Connection

  1. Great article and advice…

    My wife and I have a 13 year old daughter that is very gifted in lots of areas, but doesn’t seem to want to work a harder at any one or two things and that just being better than her inner circle instead as good as “she” can be is acceptable.

    I would love to have more conversation with you if this is something you offer.


    Wade Pinkston

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