Career & Education

Allow your child to SET GOALS

Dr Karla Hylton

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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Does your child have goals and dreams? Does he/she set goals?

Goal setting is not just for adults; it helps your child determine the direction he or she will go. Studies show that goal setting helps kids stay motivated, develop good study habits and improve confidence. When a child is able to see his or her own progress, that child feels more capable, which increases motivation to continue working hard or to increase effort.

Goals should not be confused with wishes. They are not the same. A goal is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result”. It is something we plan to achieve and which we work towards achieving.

Goals should be SMART — an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. This means:

1. Specific — Your child's goals need to be well-defined, focused and clear. What exactly do you want to achieve? For example, let's say your child was scoring 70 per cent in mathematics; his goal could be to earn above 80 per cent in the subject.

2. Measurable — You must be able to measure your progress. This helps to refine what exactly it is you want to achieve. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress. So, if on the next mathematics test your child got 79 per cent (coming from 70 per cent), then you are able to say to your child that he is almost at his target. Do not diminish the accomplishment. Progress has been made and he is almost there. Focus on the positive and not the negative.

3. Attainable — This means investigating whether the goal is truly acceptable and achievable. Do you have the effort, time and other costs it may take to reach that goal? You do not want to set yourself up for failure. Therefore, goals need to be challenging, but not beyond reach.

4. Realistic — Goals must be credible. It would be unrealistic to ask your child to get 100 per cent on that next test, coming from a 70 per cent. Small incremental goals will appear less intimidating or overwhelming and more attainable to your child. A 10 per cent increase is a realistic goal and can be achieved with effort and diligence.

5. Time-bound — A reasonable time allocation should be agreed on for accomplishment of goals. Notice, I said agreed upon between both you and your child. You cannot be too authoritarian and dictate a time framework. At the same time, you do not want to be indulgent. So, depending on the age group of your child, you could put a framework of two months to increase those grades. This time framework will help to create meaningful objectives.

Writing Goals

Writing goals is an important exercise for your child to undertake. Writing strengthens your resolve to do something. This applies to all ages.

A goal-setting worksheet can be obtained online. Discuss goals with your child, but allow him/her the freedom to complete one on his/her own. You can look at the worksheet and assess whether the goals are reasonable and attainable. Show enthusiasm and place this goal-setting worksheet somewhere that your child will see it every day.


It is inevitable that all goals may not be achieved in the time specified. There may be unforeseen obstacles that get in the way, but understand that setbacks are part of the process and they do offer lessons. Plan how to deal with these issues as they arise and encourage perseverance. Progress is built upon mistakes. Learn from your mistakes and modify the plan to achieve the goals.

Celebrate Goal Achievements

It is important to celebrate your child's accomplishments. If a goal has been achieved, then this must be acknowledged. I am not suggesting bribery. Small acts of acknowledgement will simply encourage your child to keep trying. Your child will be motivated to set other goals and to work towards achieving them.

Dr Karla Hylton is the author of Yes! You Can Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success and Complete Chemistry for Caribbean High Schools . She operates Bio & Chem Tutoring, which specialises in secondary level biology and chemistry. Reach her at (876) 564-1347, or .

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