How to Help Your Child Reach Their Goals

This post is in partnership with Sylvan Learning. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.

How often do you talk to your kids about what they want to be when they grow up? Once a school year when you take a photo of them for the first day? Or do you have older children for whom this decision is thought about constantly as you discuss colleges and SAT/ACT scores?

When I ask my daughter, she gives me a variety of answers. Sometimes she wants to be an artist traveling the world and spending her days “coloring” the sights she sees. Other days she wants to be a singer and performs for us in the living room like she’s on “American Idol.”

Most days, I would say about 97 percent of the time, she says she wants to be a teacher. In fact, she has consistently said this for the past couple of years when I’ve asked her about it for her annual back-to-school photo.

But she’s 6 still. She has plenty of time to decide.

problem solving strategies for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

My son, who is 3, has even more time. He still thinks he is going to grow up to be Batman.

Even so, we sat down this past weekend and wrote out my kids’ future goals. For my son, the list was shorter and included things like counting to 20 and learning how to hold a crayon properly.

For my daughter the list was a bit longer. She has short-term goals like learning how to tie her shoelaces, learning to ride a bike and learning to read, coupled with her long-term goals of working towards being a teacher and being an artist.

problem solving strategies for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

problem solving strategies for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

In partnership with Sylvan Learning, I’ve made some vows to help my children achieve their goals and dreams – now and in the future. I thought this list could be helpful for you as your children strive to reach future goals too.

Problem Solving Strategies For Kids

problem solving strategies for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

problem solving strategies for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Write down the goals for each child – Short-term and long-term

This will help your children focus in on what they want to achieve, and this will help you understand their goals too. Whether your child wants to learn how to tie their shoes or wants to score a 34 on their ACTs, this will draw the line in the sand. Once you have a finish line, you can work on problem solving strategies for getting to the end.

Determine a path forward

Like building a business plan, you can build strategies and tactics for helping your child reach their goals. For example, if they want to be on their college basketball team, are there things they can be doing in elementary school to make them the best player they can be? Or, if they want to go to an Ivy League school for college, what specific things do they need to do to achieve that?

Post their goals where they can see them

Whether this is in their room or an office or just the refrigerator, posting goals in a place kids and parents can see them will be a good reminder to do little things each day to accomplish those goals.

Set them up for success with needed help

If you notice your kids need a little extra help in one area, or you just want to help bolster their already budding skills, consider working with Sylvan Learning to help give your child an edge and meet their goals.

Not only does Sylvan Learning offer personalized coaching and academic tutoring, but they also offer SAT and ACT prep for teens who are looking to get noticed by top colleges.

Sylvan Learning’s certified tutors use a proven mix of face-to-face and online activities to prepare your child with effective SAT/ACT test strategies. Sylvan offers so much more than practice worksheets. Programs are tailored to each specific student’s goals, which can include group classes or individual tutoring.

With robust vocabulary building tools and thousands of video lessons, the proprietary curriculum will leave your children ready to score their best and give them the confidence they need to conquer the tests.

When my kids are at the age where they are prepping for college, I’ll be sure to take them to Sylvan Learning to help achieve their college acceptance goals.

Compliment their efforts and breakdown problems

Research has effectively shown that positive reinforcement helps strengthen children’s confidence when it comes to just about everything, and learning is no different.

Always start by pointing out the good things when it comes to work your child is doing to help them reach their goals. For instance, I helped my daughter learn to swim this summer, which is something she was really struggling with in past summers. She had this fear of being under water, so we started by breaking down the problem. She practiced going under. She practiced looking at me under the water. Each time she did something I complimented her on how well she was doing and then we talked about the things we would improve next time. Maybe she needed to stay under a few more seconds, maybe we had to add in her arms as she swam (because she seemed to rely on just kicking) or maybe we needed to adjust her mask.

By complimenting the good and reinforcing the skills a little each time, she was able to master swimming underwater and is now a fish. Now we just need to apply this to Common Core…or call Sylvan Learning.

problem solving strategies for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Keep the communication open

Keep in mind children, even teens, get easily frustrated by problems they can’t overcome so making sure you’re talking about the problems and the successes will help you work through it all. Check in with your child as they prepare for projects or a big test. Talk to them about how they’re feeling and see if there is any way you can help. You might not be able to do much based on the particular problem, but sometimes kids just need to talk about it to work through it. Never underestimate how valuable your perspective is as a parent.

Find role models they can learn about and possibly meet

Depending on your child’s goals, there might be a role model within reach that could continue to inspire them. For instance, if your child decided they want to be a firefighter, maybe see if there is someone at your local fire station they could speak with. If you child wants to be an archeologist, don’t just watch Indiana Jones movies. See if you can find someone they can connect with – even if it’s just online or through a blog. Sometimes you can be a role model as a parent, teacher or tutor, but other times it’s amazing to help your child connect with someone outside their family and school circles.

Determine check points and evaluate their progress

Just like a goal for work, you need to know if your strategies and tactics for helping your child reach their goals are working. Make sure you circle around once a month on some of the smaller goals, and maybe every three months on some of the large goals to evaluate if your child is advancing as planned.

For example, if your child is prepping for the SAT or ACT with Sylvan Learning tutors, they have an easy, online progress-tracking tool for parents to keep you informed. They offer regularly-scheduled progress check-in meeting with tutors to discuss test prep progress.

problem solving strategies for kids - The Everyday Mom Life

Determine a new plan if needed

Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work as expected. It’s alright to change course or approach something differently if your child isn’t advancing as planned. Maybe there’s a new way to approach the issue or a different setting that could be more beneficial. If that’s the case, explain the reasons for changing direction to your child and make sure he or she is comfortable with a different path.

If you need help planning out your children’s goals, visit our printables section to grab the easy tracking worksheet below.

Also, make sure to visit Sylvan Learning to find out more about the programs they offer that could propel your child forward academically. Click here to learn specifically about their advancement and test prep programs if your teen is beginning to think about college.

For more parenting tips, click here. 


  1. We also had our preschoolers write down their short-term goal (along with chores) to help them keep focused. It seems to have really worked as they are doing great in school!

  2. These printables are fantastic! Goal setting is a big thing around our house. I love seeing their faces when they reach a big milestone.

  3. I like these strategies. Keeping track of their progress as they work towards their goals is bound to help a lot. The reinforcement you give along the way can really make things stick.

  4. I’ve always heard such great things about this program. It’s great that they can help out kids. I really love that printable as well. Those are really neat.

  5. My daughter is also 6 and she says she wants to be a vet and travel the world… lol. I tell her all the time you can do both! Right now I am able to work with her one on one to help her solve any problems. We talk it out, write it out, draw it out – whatever she prefers.

  6. These are some great tips. My kids are teens so they are older but this is exactly what I did with them. I still set them up for success. When they are working on a major goal I am sure to check in without taking over.

  7. I feel like I need that goal sheet for me! My son just started 4th and its def a ramp up from lower elementary. These are good tips and I will probably talk to his teacher about a few things now, before the year gets too far underway!

  8. This is a really neat idea. We work on goals all the time but I have never sat down with my kids and asked them what their goals should be… I’m going to give it a try!!

  9. Never thought about writing down my child’s goal. This could be a very interesting and stimulating idea. We talked often about his goals but nevere wrote them down. This is an activity that we’ll do this weekend.

  10. When my oldest was 6, he always said he wanted to be a doctor. He had a play set and everything. He’s in college now and is pre-med! I have some of the drawings he made of himself as a doctor when he was little and can’t wait to do something fun with them when he graduates.


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