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One week into 2021, an Ottawa parenting consultant says it is not too late to set goals with your children for the New Year.

"Goals don't have to be specific just at certain times of the year, they can happen at any time; when change has happened or when we have this motivation to improve in certain areas," says Sylvia Corzato, parenting consultant and behaviour coach with Success in Steps.

Corzato recommends parents with children over the age of six work with them to set new goals and resolutions.

"I think that goals are very important to set with your children because it has something for them to look forward to and to see how their efforts they place will reap the results, so it's based on their efforts," said Corzato in an interview with CTVNewsOttawa.ca.

Corzato also recommends allowing your children to create their own goals and resolutions.

"What we want to do is we want to make our children heard. We want them to share openly where their goals are at and then we need to bring in what is realistic and what is not," said Corzato. "But we want to do is always use a positive approach when doing that, because we can easily say something that will crush their goals or crush their motivation, and that's something we want to avoid."

Corzato says parents should have conversations with their children about goals and resolutions "whenever they're starting something new," including the start of school after the holidays and the switch to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with CTVNewsOttawa.ca Sylvia Corzato of Success in Steps outlines three steps for setting goals with your children.

REFLECT BEFORE YOU START WRITING DOWN GOALS

Needs vs. Wants

"I like to try to incorporate needs versus wants whenever I can with my kids, as it allows them to place some thought into their request, their actions and creates motivations for their goals as well," said Corzato during an interview with CTVNewsOttawa.ca. "On the flip side, it makes them also reconsider what they actually thought that they needed or wanted, maybe it's not something that is on that list anymore once they've had a chance to reflect."

Things I Enjoy vs. Things I Don't Miss

"With COVID, there's been a lot of time for reflection both for adults and for children, and I think that it's very important for us to have that conversation with our children at this time to really identify things that they're really missing out on and things that they can do without," said Corzato. "It's going to provide a lot of self-reflection and it's going to help you to navigate what they can work towards as well. So, it's really important to understand where their motivations are."

Strengths vs. Weaknesses

"Every year, there are things we've improved on, or excelled, or we've surprised ourselves that we've been able to accomplish certain things and then we look at areas where by you know what we didn't do so great in that area," said Corzato. "So we have to look at what is the reason for that, did I not put enough effort into reading and that's why I'm not excelling in that area, or I haven't been prepping my drills for soccer and that's why I'm not improving in that area. So looking at where they've improved and where their weaknesses are, that's a great way to start with how we can formulate goals as well."

DIVE DEEPER INTO A CONVERSATION

"It's throwing the ball into your child's court," said Corzato about the need to have a conversation with your children about their goals.

"The goals are not for us to create; the goals are for our children to create because when they create the goals, the motivation is going to be there."

Corzato recommends speaking with your children about three things:

  • Why do you want that?
  • What do you enjoy about that?
  • Why do you want to get better in that?

"Why do you want to do that, what do you enjoy about that, why do you want to get better in that. By asking those questions, your child is going to really understand the reason behind their goal and it will help to define their goal that much better," said Corzato.

Corzato recommends that when you have the conservation with your children; help them define their goals with the help of their answers.

WRITE DOWN SHORT AND LONG-TERM GOALS

Aim to Reach Your Short-Term Goals by the End of Each Season

Corzato recommends setting goals for each season, rather than a full year.

"If we set a goal for the end of the year, it's just too far away and when we do that our motivation is just not going to be able to carry us through," said Corzato. "I like to focus on seasons, because that way each season we can talk about what we've done properly, what we need to improve on, how close we are to our goals, but we want to have celebrations along the way as well."

Have your Child Track Progress

Corzato says there are many different methods to track your child's progress towards achieving their goals, including Apps, a checkmark system and placing Smarties or marbles in a jar.

"It really depends on your child's motivation; but I think that by a child tracking their progress, it's going to help them understand at the end how they've obtained their success or why they didn't achieve the goal that they've set," said Corzato.

Reinforce your Child's Efforts/Focus on the Positives

When speaking with your children about the progress towards achieving their goals, Corzato recommends focusing on the positive.

"Their motivation is going to be fleeting at times, just like it is for adults, so we want to reinforce your child's efforts to help them obtain their goals," said Corzato. "For example, if your child's goal is to improve in their sport, comment on how you have been noticing how much they have been practicing their soccer drills on their own.  If your child is working on spending less time on their electronics, note how much quicker they are to get off their electronic when their time is up."

Corzato adds the goal for parents is to focus on the positive.

"If our child makes a mistake, we don't want to focus our attention on the negative because what we focus on is what grows. So little progress every day is better than no effort being made at all."