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January 1, 2019

January Breakfasts: Serve Goals with those Grits 

By Tara Payor, Ph.D.  

Jan. 1 means new beginnings. It also means revising approaches to what we already have in progress.

Whether they are kindergarteners or seniors, kids of all ages benefit from conversations focused on goals, grit and the importance of keeping our internal batteries charged. 

Checklists 

Winter break offers kids a chance to recharge by engaging in both personally fulfilling activities and needed downtime.

As back-to-school day approaches, it’s a good time to teach them the utility of checklists.

Checklists are powerful tools; some of the most detail-oriented professionals, like pilots and surgeons, utilize them. For listing feasible goals and to-do items alike, checklists scaffold focused undertakings.

Feasible goals, like learning 10 new sight words biweekly or bringing an SAT score up by “x” points, support success and demolish anxiety. Reasonable to-do lists serve as essential reminders and undergird needed feelings of accomplishment as items are crossed off.  

Tension  

A phrase I’ve come to appreciate and pass on to both my students and children is “embrace the shake.”

It’s at those points of tension, when muscles are shaking, that development occurs. When we commit to working through the shake—even in our brain—we develop grit. Kids get tired.

They may hit the metaphorical wall. Engage them in conversations about the drawbacks of taking the path of least resistance, using personal examples.

Also, let kids in on the fact that our motivation also wanes. It helps humanize us and gives them useful insight to the power of mind over matter. We can share ready-to-use strategies that help us “embrace the shake” and break through “the wall.”  

Accountability  

Accountability partners are as useful for 4-year-olds as they are for 40-year-olds.

When we tell a trusted person that we feel tempted to give up, we protect ourselves from the dangers of becoming silos. It’s imperative kids learn that successes, great and small, are propelled by support from and collaboration with others. We should show children how the adage, “it takes a village,” plays out in our lives and contributes to the family unit’s success.

Related: How to teach your children and yourself the art of gratitude in 2019

While I’m a big proponent of students learning to hold themselves accountable, I also reinforce how essential partnerships are in reminding us that we can conquer to-do lists, break through walls, and succeed.  

Celebrate Success  

Despite how small some successes may seem to our adult selves, it’s important we honor them for our children.

Be it a good grade on a spelling test or finishing a series of books, invite kids into conversations about how good it feels to persist and succeed. From displaying the fruits of their labor on the fridge to treating them to froyo, these celebrations are pleasing to pre-schoolers and adolescents.

Related: Family Fitness Goals | Rethink and Reframe Your Resolutions

Through intentional thoughts, habits and actions, let’s teach our kids that we are all works in progress—a beautiful thing, 24/7.  

  • Young children benefit from magnet boards depicting their to-do’s  
  • Dry-erase boards in a shared family location of the home support accountability 
  • Utilize technology such as reminder apps, sticky note apps and shared calendars