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Goal Setting: How Bad Goal Setting Defines The Road To Failing

Goal Setting: How Bad Goal Setting Defines The Road To Failing

One question comes up the most during parenting classes, “Why is goal setting so important when we talk with our children?” Read this real life conversation:

Me: “What is that you want to achieve?”
Boy: “ I want to play football and score 5 goals in the next game” (excited and thrilled)
Me: “Wow, that sounds like a lot”
Boy: “Yes, but that’s what I really want”
Me: “How many goals do you score normally in a game?”
Boy: … Silence
Me: … Silence
Boy: “Not many. In most games I don’t get to score a goal at all”

This script is a real situation from my kids coaching session with an 8 years old boy a few months ago. Goal setting is in every part of our lives, yet we struggle to do it properly.

From very early on we set goals for ourselves, we want to achieve something good, we want to validate ourselves. As parents, we also set goals to push our childrento do better and enjoy more.

However, what we don’t realise is the effects a bad goal might have on us or them. Over ambitious goals are as bad as too low goals or no goals at all. We all seem to know that. In the corporate world everybody talks about SMART goal setting and things like that, yet, only few people do it themselves. The situation is not different in parenting classes.

Finding the right goal and defining it in the right terms will be the difference between failure and success. Here are two simple techniques I use when coaching kids to set their goals

The excitement scale. How excited are you about your goal? Really excited? Thrilled? Then, change it as chances are that you won’t achieve it.

In our kid coaching sessions, I ask children to create their excitement scale. We represent it on a 1-10 scale in which 1 is boredom and falling asleep and 10 is hyperactive excitement. Then, I ask them to fill the gaps in between with whatever representation comes to their mind (ie. 8 is fireworks going off, 5 is a clock, precise and constant).

I ask them, “What level do you think you need to be to achieve the goal?” The normal answer is 7 or 8, sometimes they even want to be 10. We then rehearse through the journey to achieve their goal. Through games and talk they quickly realise that the more excited they are the worse they perform. Working as a life coach for kids I have realized that too much excitement can be counterproductive. The excitement can wear out with the slightest difficulty.

Eventually, they tell me things like “I think that I need to be at a 5 or maximum 6. If I go higher I get excited and with that I get nervous”

Then we work on defining the goal itself.

In that goal you set for yourself, what is under your control? What factors are mostly under your area of control?

The goal is to separate the part that he or she can really do, from the outcome. The effort and work that they have to put towards something vs the outcome. Most likely the outcome will be affected by a lot of other things that they can’t control or even know. During kids coaching session I help them to figure this out.

I can’t control who wins the race but I control how I prepare for it.
Its not under my control to achieve 25/30 right answers in my speed test, but I can control how I train and practice for it.
I can’t make that girl to be my friend. But I control how I talk to her or what I say.

In my last corporate job before I took to life coach for kids I used to tell my team, “You don’t control whether the client will sign the contract. However, you control how you prepare for the meeting, the communication you send, how you answer their questions”.

By focussing the energy on the things that we have more control over, we gain strength and confidence and perform our best. Also, we just have to wait for the results to come.

This is my kids coaching session conversation with the boy I mentioned at the beginning. This is how the conversation ended after a few other talks.

Boy: “I scored a goal today!”
Me: “That’s great, well done. what else happened?”
Boy: “I had a great time, I was in a good mood because I had gone to practice every week.”
Me: “Well done. Anything else?”
Boy: “Not really. I was just having fun and enjoying playing with my friends.”

And here is me thinking: “Just having fun and enjoying playing”.

Giving Praise To Children

Giving Praise To Children

I admit it, my desk and fridge at some point, were filled with my daughters’ drawings that I had no idea what they were. For some of them, I felt my daughters hadn’t made enough effort. The same happened with a number of “achievements”. Subsequently, I began to think of the best approach towards giving praise to children.  As a professional life coach for kids, I want to encourage them, not pushing or openly lying to them.

Eventually something clicked and I learnt the basics for giving praise to children as well as positive reinforcement. I have used them a lot with my daughters and during my kids coaching sessions.

Let’s start from the beginning. Praise and positive reinforcement, when done incorrectly or overused, can result to confusion or a false sense of achievement. Most children know when their work is worth it. Over praising (ie. praising anything they do) can lead the children into either not believing what we are saying or into a comfort zone from which the children will not want to leave. This can reduce their confidence to attempt new things in the fear that they might not receive the praise.

Praise and positive reinforcement when done correctly and at the right time, can have a tremendous effect in creating confident and innovative kids.

How can you find the balance?

There are two parts. First part is to focus on the effort made, second part is how to give them feedback. In my parenting classes, I help parents to know the importance of these two parts.

When giving praise to children, focus on the effort and the work completed rather than the outcome. The picture might be nice (or not) but spending 30 minutes concentrating and working on something is priceless learning.

The outcome, (the drawing, the music played on the piano, etc.) is almost secondary. It is a result of the skills applied (creativeness, focus, concentration, persistence, desire, etc). During my kids coaching sessions, I pay more attention to efforts.

The second part is about giving them feedback on the specific work. I recommend the “3 diamond and 1 star” approach.

After praising the effort and skills applied (whichever it was), ask your child to think of 3 things he/she has done that deserves a Diamond and what 1 thing deserves a Star. Diamonds are the things they are most proud of in their work. The star is for something they like but know they could do better. Finally ask them, “how will you make your Star a Diamond next time?”.

Three important tips; firstly, remember the ratio 3:1 to generate motivation. Secondly, ensure they always talk about their Diamonds first. Finally, let them come up with the solutions but feel free to suggest others that complement what they say whilst respecting their ideas. As a life coach for kids, I know this is not as easy as it sounds. However, I know it is not impossible.

Final tip, remind and tell them their resolutions next time before they go onto doing something new.

I was doing some research recently and found this wonderful resource. Check it out HERE.

Morning Routine With Children

Over the last few weeks I have seen a lot of posts on Facebook asking “How do I get my kid to follow a morning routine that will get them out of home on time so I am not late for work?” As a professional life coach for kids, I have to admit that I have seen a great amount of advice—and a lot of them are really wise.

However, in this article I just want to highlight my experience as a kids coaching expert and a dad of two (10 and 8 years) who has gone through the same.

Morning routines are important tools for sucessful parenting

Let’s start with the basics. Getting out of bed and out of home is annoying for a lot of us. It doesn’t matter if we are kids or adults. My wife moans every day that she doesn’t want to go to the office.

Another important bit to consider is that the morning routine, especially when we have very young children/toddlers, is our routine not theirs. In all fairness, they can’t be bothered if we are late for work or if they are 5 minutes late for nursery.

A third point to consider is that children want to spend time with their parents. If that time is spent in laughter and playfulness, even better. However, if the choice is between not having mum/dad and having them grumpy they will always choose to have grumpy parents.

Finally, as a kids coaching expert, I will like to bring your attention to what I said in 3 paragraphs above; children will mirror a lot of our behaviour and emotions. That’s probably why my youngest daughter says “I don’t feel like going to school today”, some days. Perhaps, it is because her mom do it sometimes.

Let me sumarize all we have said so far as if I was a 2-3 years old kid:

They asking me to get ready quickly for something I don’t care much and that means I won’t see them today, also mum doesn’t like it…. why should I do it?

Result: We get stressed, probably raise our voice or tone (don’t think for a second that those “honey” “sweet heart” or “champion” said under duress trick them) and the rest, well you know all of that.

In Setting Morning Routines we have to lead by example

The solution: Change the game by starting to enjoy yourself in the morning. First and foremost, make it interesting and fun for yourself. If you are having fun, chances are they will have fun as well and play along.

Using my professional kids coaching senses, I can hear some of you saying, “Yeah right, easily said than done”. However, the fact is that it all starts with you, your moods and emotions. The tips below apply to you as much as to your children.

1. Give yourself time:

Sacrificing 15 minutes of sleep can make a massive difference when looking for the other shoe under the bed. A successful morning routine requires that everyone needs to make some sort of sacrifice.

2. Plan it in advance and with them:

Pack the bags, prepare the clothes, and let them make small decisions (“which socks do you want to wear?”). Let them be part of it (“can you please bring that bag so it’s ready for tomorrow?”). Also, let them figure out what’s missing in a playful way.

3. In the morning, make preparation playful and relaxed:

Through life coaching for children sessions, I have discovered that competitions work well for a limited amount of times. Subsequently, you may need to find other forms of motivation.

4. Rewards can also motivate children to participate in morning routines:

Ensure you reward (with words and gestures) good behaviours and ignore (or do your best to ignore) bad behaviours.

5. Add some novelty to the day, maybe stop in a shop or get them an unrequested treat:

Let them make decisions (“do we go right or wrong”). Enjoy the journey and make a mini adventure of it (“have you seen those daffodils?”), where did we see the yellow car yesterday? Can we find it again?

I personally loved the car journeys to school. My daughter has a great talent for dj’ing with Spotify. Thus, she would even choose the happy songs if she is in a bad mood.

As you can imagine, there will be better days than others. As a professional life coach for kids and parent, I have seen it all. Just stay with it, mainly because you enjoy it. Secondly, because you will be passing your mood and abilities to them.

Going forward:

Think on what parts of the routine they can start doing on their own. Can they pack their own bags? Prepare their snacks? When do you think they are ready to make their own beds? Consequently, they will accept responsibilities and thrive with them if they are handed down properly and constructively.

And if you were to remember only 3 things from this article here are my suggestions: 1) Make morning routine fun and enjoy it yourself 2) Reward positive behaviours 3) They can and want to do a lot more than we think.

I found other great stuff that you can do to kick start your morning routine. You can check them out HERE.
Have a lovely day

Javier orti

Javier Orti is an International Life Coach specialised in working with Parents and Children.

How Are Children Setting Their Goals? – Como Se Ponen Objetivos Los Niños

How Are Children Setting Their Goals? – Como Se Ponen Objetivos Los Niños

Colorful building blocks

English / Español

During my life coaching for children sessions, I use a lot of games to observe them. However, these games also help them to see parts of themselves that they don’t normally see or admit to themselves.

In these games we play during kids coaching sessions, we also set “records”. For instance, the tallest tower made of jenga pieces, the biggest amount of paper ball catches, and things like that.

When the children are playing, I observe what they do and what it helps them achieve. Subsequently, most children will set a goal for themselves (ie. catch 18 times the ball) and get excited about it. Now, some of them tend to achieve and others struggle.

In a professional life coaching for children session, I have noticed that children who struggle are those who tend to count as they get on with the game. However, the children that achieve tend to just do it—for fun.

My believe is that those children that struggle are not using their natural strategies. They are playing according to what they have been taught (aim high, set yourself goals, be better than him/her) not as they are naturally good at. Thus, during kids coaching session, I tell these children, “Just focus on doing it one more time. No need to count. I will do that for you”.

Do you know what? Most times they do much better than when they were counting.

Some children are goal driven, give them a target and they will achieve it. However, some children need small feasible tasks and, one at a time, will get to the same result.

How is your child setting his or her goals?


En mis sesiones de coaching con niños uso muchos juegos para observarles, pero también para ayudarles a ver partes de su personalidad de las que no se dan cuenta, o no quieren ver.

En esos juegos también tenemos “records”. Por ejemplo, la torre mas alta que podemos hacer the piezas de jenga, el mayor numero de veces que podemos coger la bola de papel, y cosas como esas.

Cuando los niños están jugando, yo observo lo que hacen y lo que les ayuda a conseguir sus objetivos. Casi todos los niños se ponen metas (voy a coger la bola de papel 18 veces) y están super contentos con la idea. Unos lo suelen conseguir y otros no tanto.

En los niños que no tienden a conseguirlo he notado que cuentan las veces que han hecho algo (6, 7, 8…). Los niños que tienen a conseguir sus objetivos no cuentan, simplemente lo hacen.

Personalmente creo que esos niños que no consiguen sus objetivos no están utilizando sus características naturales. Están jugando como les han enseñado (aspira alto, define tus objetivos, se mejor que el/ella) pero no como ellos son de forma natural. A estos niños les digo “simplemente céntrate en hacerlo una vez mas, no cuentes que ya lo hago yo”. Sabes que? la mayoría de las veces consiguen mas que contando.

Algunos niños se centran naturalmente en un gol o meta. Dales un objetivo y pondran a conseguirlo. Otros niños trabajan mejor pensando en pequeños pasos cada vez, uno a uno, y llegaran al mismo resultado. Como es tu hijo?