How to Help Your Teen Define & Accomplish New Goals for the New Year

The new year brings a chance for you to set personal and career goals to improve yourself and your situation. Your teen, however, might not be so excited about making changes. Teens have a hard time seeing far into the future, so making goals for an entire year might seem insurmountable to your child. Your teen, however, should learn how to set personal goals and you can work with her to help her achieve them in the coming year.

Ask your teen what she would like to accomplish this year, such as making a sports team or applying to college. Ask her to list a few new things she wants to try, such as rock climbing or horseback riding, as well. When she gets these wants out in the open, she's more likely to work harder toward accomplishing them.

Encourage your teen to write down his goals in a journal or as a poster to hang in his room. The visual reminder will help him make plans to keep working toward his goals until he's successful, according to KidsHealth.

Help your teen break each of her goals into steps. If she wants to make the cheerleading squad, she might sign up for a cheer or dance class at a local recreation center and then ask older siblings or friends to show her a few moves. If she wants to get into a certain college, she might review the admission guidelines and then begin gathering the materials she'll need when she's actually ready to send off the application. By breaking the goals into manageable steps, she's more likely to persevere to reach her goal.

Help your teen identify a deadline for each of the steps she's decided on. A deadline is a powerful motivator because it requires your teen to put in the hard work and have the dedication to get each step done in a logical and appropriate time frame, according to Anne Courtright, author of "Reaching Your Goals: The Ultimate Teen Guide." 3

Celebrate your teen's successes, which can help further motivate him to reach the ultimate goal he's identified for himself. If your teen wants to make the soccer team, have a special meal or see a movie together when he's completed 10 practices or put money in his college fun as a reward for writing his entrance essay for college. Rewards and incentives help build your teen's self-confidence so he's more likely to stay on track toward reaching his goal.

Review your teen's goals periodically. Discuss what's working and what's not. Once you identify how your teen is doing, you can make helpful suggestions so he can make changes to what's not working. These changes can increase the chances that he's successful in reaching his goals by the end of the year.


Resist the urge to identify goals that you think your child should reach. When you choose goals for him, he's more likely to be resistant to accomplishing them, according to KidsHealth.