Goal Setting Tips for Parents of Teens
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Goal Setting Tips for Parents of Teens

Our phones are a great example of Goal Setting

Do you remember life without a GPS?  Paper maps are still useful but gratefully our phone’s GPS map leads us visually to our desired destination and even tell us how long it will take to get there if we are traveling the speed limit with no stops.

Think about your last road trip.  It’s likely that you had a destination in mind and to get there required knowing which stop was next, where the “potty breaks” could be, where you would overnight and where you would gas-up and eat? Unless you were out on a random walkabout, you had a target in mind and an idea how you would get there. Our GPS won’t help our teens personal goals, but it symbolically shows that achieving goals are incremental and when we apply reverse engineering, we can break them down into landmark achievements.

What are the benefits of setting goals?

  • Goals give us purpose and direction
  • It teaches all of us how to prioritize and protect time for what we want to achieve
  • It gives us a chance to look for mentors, and strategies from those that have succeeded in the goal of choice and connect with someone for accountability
  • It teaches mindset, motivation, work-ethic, and self-confidence
  • It can teach us how failure is a part of our journey and trying again is the next step.

Goal setting can seem daunting

Goal setting can seem so daunting for teens and overwhelming when they are looking at committing to paper a target that will take them on a path of work and persistence. But it’s the targets in life that give us the aim past the distractions, diversions and time wasters that literally come into our homes, schools, work, and phones. Having a focus and learning how to stick with it is a critical empowerment skill not only for teens but for the teen in all of us!

Deciding what is a goal worthy activity is where you come in. Help your teen remember things that they have mentioned they would like to learn or be exposed to. “Remember when you said you’d like to learn French?” “Remember when you said that earning money for a new scooter was a dream of yours?” “Do you still dream of starting your own little business?” Remembering their comments and reactions to experiences they would like to have or skills they would want to acquire is a good place to find goals that they may stick with.

The Barney Song was a great teacher

 “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere!”

Learning the skill of goal setting is something we experienced from our youngest recallable age. Learning to pick up our toys, learning to make a bed and learning to get ready for bed were those small targets that would start to set us up for the goal setting of tomorrow.  Small finishes and small follow-throughs, especially if celebrated, set up our brains to recognize what it feels like to accomplish something.  From small and simple things, we were being primed to be able to do more and more as our abilities and capacities increased.

Enter now the world of the teen and their extraordinary brain is now set up to learn at warp speed.  If you’d like a glance at the fastest brains on the earth, then just look at the nearest 18-year-olds and you are looking at the speediest brains of our human species.  Crazy right?  If you want some great insights into your teens brain, listen to the Know Brainerz Empowering Possibilities podcast #31 The Miraculous Teen Brain.  But what does this teach us?

Teens have the capacity, audacity, resources, and energy to learn, try, fail, risk, and smash the goals they set for themselves. Combine that with a passion and a desire, and it’s a beautiful force to see in motion. Just look at how they learn the lyrics to songs or a new skill from the internet. When they have a desire to learn and do, they grasp it so fast.

What are the obstacles that can get in the way of teens achieving their goals?

  • Their own brain
  • We as mentors and parents
  • Lack of motivation
  • No support
  • Overwhelm breaking it down


Their own brain

While teens had lightning speed processing (just watch a teen scrolling on social media), the prefrontal cortex is still developing the critical thinking skills and a full maturity to set realistic goals and learn the skill of breaking it into manageable bites.  When we identify frustration from our teen we can step in and remind them of one of their own past successes and what the steps were that helped them to achieve it. Helping them study current or past heroes who pursued a similar goal and had setbacks of their own, can help with ideas on how to press forward or course correct.

The teen years are a great time to experiment with what they love to do. Allowing them to change a goal and work towards something else is not a failure, it is finding out what didn’t work and the next right step.

We as mentors and parents

Is this goal their own goal, or did we let our own egos sneak in and we are living out our own dreams and goals through our teens? Certain skills and goals require learning from a young age and extra support is needed to guide them through the rigors of practice and perfection. As the parent or guardian, leaving our own ego at the door is critical to separate our dream from theirs.

But what should you do if your adolescent has an ambition that you yourself find unappealing? Right then is a fantastic chance to demonstrate that you care about what they care about. Gaining experience is the value and learning of goal setting.  If this is the wrong direction for them, it will manifest and then as their cheerleader and coach, you can course correct and guide them to the next better experience.  Allow them to process what they learned from their previous efforts.

Lack of motivation,

No support

Lack of motivation can be a factor of a goal that doesn’t make the heart sing or the stress of feeling like they lack the skills or abilities to compete in their chosen goal. When comparison creeps in, our focus goes from an internal motivation to an external motivator.  It is only when we compare our performance with our own performance from a week ago, a month ago etc. that we bring control to a true measure of success.

Watch your teen to see if they would benefit from a mentor.  While we would love to help and assist our teens with their goals and progress, some are resistant to seeking the support of their parents. Mentors could be friends, grandparents, organized clubs, or even a sibling. Someone vested in our goal makes the journey more enjoyable and provides a lift in motivation when we’d rather give up. Make sure that the mentor will also allow a partial attempt on those “hard days”. Chances are giving a teen a “just do it for 10 minutes”, will engage the brain in the motion of the try and reawaken the desire to continue. Skills are learned with intensity and repetition. It’s better to have a partial try day than “skip” the day entirely.

Overwhelm breaking it down

Many goals are abandoned when they take too much time or are too hard. Help your teen break their goal into smaller chunks or less of a time constraint. When a goal becomes doable, it increases the self-confidence of your teen.  They can make it harder as confidence and skill increases.

How can Know Brainerz Level Up help?

LEVEL UP Empowering Possibilities guides your teen through a series of prompts to unleash their desires and passions and then boil it down to goals that can be accomplished now, within several years and beyond. The goal setting chapter is a powerful blueprint that they create with actionable, bitesize steps that bring their dreams and goals into their today life as they step forward with the habits and actions of transformation.

The journey of life is enhanced as we master specific talents or abilities. Just like its name suggests, the Know Brainerz Level Up curriculum strives to give your teenager the skills they need to maneuver and thrive through whatever life throws at them.  The tools taught meet the brain right where it is developmentally and sets them up to succeed as they mastermind goals and dreams of today and tomorrow.

Learn more about the teen program families and schools are talking about.



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