This week we’ll be looking at the second LifeBlok you’ll build together with your young dreamer, but before we get into that, let’s consider for a moment just how HARD goal setting with your child is.
Looks easy right? We’re just making a 3d to-do list with this fun activity kit? What could be simpler? This will be your train of thought until you sit down and try it.
Your young charge is going to sit there, felt tip pen in hand, colouring away and is most likely to shrug when you say:
“So… What’s your goal going to be?”
Putting yourself back in their shoes, at say, 10 years old, did you have any idea of:
• What career you wanted to follow?
• Sporting achievements you could attain?
• Qualifications you needed to pass?
Of course, you didn’t and perhaps nobody ever even asked you? As we’ve said before, this is an important responsibility and possibly the best bit of parenting you’ll ever do!
Here’s the Winterfam top 5 tips to getting this key activity right:
1. Tackle LifeBlox 1 & 2 simultaneously
LifeBlox number two relates to what your child excels at, their talents or GIFTS. When you’re setting goals, you have more of a chance of success if what they want to achieve relates to or utilises the skills and expertise, they’re good at. Most likely, these will be things that your child enjoys the most. See below for more on LifeBlok 2.
2. Line up with your child’s motivation
What motivates your youngster? I found that my boys are money driven. Particularly as they got older and made the connection between that little wallet, they got for their 6th birthday and the potential additional contents of their toy boxes. I’m not necessarily going to let all their goals be oriented around the acquisition of funds but planning and budgeting can be brought in when you hit the Penny Takers and Penny Earners blocks later and are both useful skills.
My daughter was very much motivated by what her friends were doing. When we dug a little deeper into her goal of learning to play the piano, we found that three of her pals were doing the same thing. So, we added those friends to the Important People block to remind her that they can learn together and support each other.
Be candid and ask why they’re going for a particular goal. It can be a revealing conversation.
Using LifeBlox to steer your child in a certain direction if you get the motivational link right. If your aim as a parent is to use the tool to MAKE your child choose a certain subject at school, question your own motivations before you think about theirs.
Are you forcing someone to do something? Are they just humouring you with false interest?
3. Anchor the goal to a real-life event (rather than a dream!)
Some children will be on-board with you from the outset. Maybe they truly know that they want to be a Formula One racing driver at the age of eleven. Offering an incentive that’s anchored in a real-life event can be a good tactic. An hour at the local Karting track as an incentive is the only way you and they will find out if they have a natural talent as a racer.
School options are another good real-life anchor. Discussing which subjects are going to help them best achieve their goal is vital. Racing drivers for example, need mental discipline, good numeracy and business acumen to make a career of doing what they love. So, psychology, mathematics and business studies would be good choices.
4. Use all 6 sides
The LifeBlox are cubes for a reason. Start with your main goal, then create Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and if you’re happy to press your child, Time bound sub goals. Steps along a road that your child can write on the other five sides. Keep in mind the other blocks as you work.
TimeSpenders for example. What activities do you they need to carry out? To use our wanna-be F1 driver as an example again doing some exercises aimed at improving reaction times, maybe as a football goal-keeper would be a useful way to improve future driving and could link to the DownTime block also.
5. Be prepared to negotiate
Set expectations and be prepared for some give and take. The last thing you want is to create an unrealistic plan that is only going to dash your young dreamer’s hopes.
In my own family, my daughter, the budding musician went straight to putting a full-sized piano onto the ToolKit block. Which in itself is OK, as she also linked up to Penny Earners and knew she had to save for it, but one big problem: We don’t have room for one in the house.
We need to negotiate her down to something a little more manageable in terms of floor space!
Blok 2: YOUR GIFTS
When you sit down to begin your LifeBlox plan, as a parent, you know where your child’s strengths lie. The GIFTS block is all about listing what your child enjoys doing as these are likely the things that they revel in. But the GIFTS LifeBlok not just to do with their strong points, as I discovered…
My daughter is a creative one. She writes stories, loves to draw and has enjoyed posting on her own YouTube channel for a while (heavy parental content curation required folks!). It was no surprise that she wanted to continue learning the piano and head down the path to becoming a musician. Ukulele had been a school music lesson staple at primary, which seemed to spark something which she has continued with ever since.
On the GOALs LifeBlok, we mapped out several steps and we discussed how she would need to perform in public at some point. This is where we hit a blocker. She’s shy, despite her YouTubing and flatly refused that we should make any plans around playing for an audience. We talked about playing for a school production or joining a band to help her overcome the fear. But she was resolute.
We parked it for now but will revisit the topic. I’m thinking we go back to the puppet shows she used to do with her little brother in days gone by. Rekindle that memory and build upon how much fun it was. “Remember the applause darling!”
This does highlight another use for the GIFTS block and the Talent Outlets block too: Some GIFTS must be worked for and improved via practice.
We’ve yet to complete her GIFTS LifeBlok, but when we do, I expect that she’ll need some prompting, so prepared in my mental kitbag will be:
GIFTS: Song writing, Storytelling, Dancing
Talents that she probably doesn’t even realise that she has. But I’ve seen them. Little notebooks and scraps of paper left on the bedroom floor, expressing what she was feeling at a point in time. Impressing me with her Charleston in some random moment in the kitchen. That’s creativity and that’s artistry. Stuff that may make her blush, but it needs to be cherished and nurtured and channelled positively through encouragement and kindness.
So be prepared to discuss your little one’s weaknesses as well as their strengths and barter on those sub-goals.
Until next week, when we’ll discuss the Yin and Yangs of finance: keep searching!