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By: Dallan Hunt

There are some days when we feel defeated, when we just want to give up—both for ourselves, and our children. But we should always remember what the lovable and quirky character, Charlie Brown, once said: “Life can be tough. Be strong.” This is simple advice, and is a lesson for anyone who has ever considered quitting. But how exactly can our children be strong when they face adversity? Whether preparing for an upcoming math test, trying to make a new friend, or even standing up to a bully, facing challenges can stir up anxiety and fear, and make your child question themselves. Kids might catch themselves thinking, “What if I fail? What will others think of me?” When the challenges seem too great, the question comes creeping in … “Should I just give up?”

Going from failure to success

Giving up can seem like the only option at times, but why? Wanting to quit is often because we don’t know what success looks like, or can’t see how to get there. Knowing how to set our minds on success is critical, and this is why defining success is so important. To see what I mean, have your child pull out the closest Post-it Note you can find, and get ready to see how changing your perspective changes everything!

In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver invented what would one day become a world-wide success: the Post-it Note. But before it was a success, it was a failure. Dr. Silver had initially set out to create a super strong glue, but instead ended up with a super weak one. For years he didn’t know what to do with it, and no one else did either. In relation to his goal of creating a super glue, he failed … until one day a few years later.

In 1974, a colleague by the name of Art Fry was singing in choir, and the bookmarks in his hymnal kept falling out. He remembered Dr Silver’s failed super glue, and found that it was just right for holding his bookmarks in place, allowing him to move and reattach them with ease. On that day, Dr. Silver’s failed super glue became a great success, and the Post-it Note was born!

If Dr Silver’s glue didn’t change, how did it go from a failure to a success? What changed?

The answer comes down to setting the right goals. By changing the goal to achieve something different, from a strong glue to a weak glue, we can see that the goals we set and how we define success can be the difference between succeeding and failing.

How to help your child set SMART goals

Likewise, if you want your child to succeed this school year, then teach them how to define success. Hint: It comes down to setting goals. Teaching your child how to set goals, and how to change their goals if needed, will set them on a path to success.

Luckily, we have you covered! For years, Sylvan has already been teaching students how to set effective goals with their program Sylvan Advanced Study Skills. Do you want to know how to set and achieve effective goals? Think SMART.

Specific: How can I make my goal narrow and focused?

Measurable: What am I using to measure my goal?

Attainable: How will I achieve my goal?

Realistic: Is this goal possible? Should I change my goal?

Timely: What is my deadline?

Helping your child to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely will help them to define success, and achieve it.

One way to start is by asking them what their goals are for this school year. Goals can be academic, like scoring well on the next math test, turning in all homework on time, getting a B+ in English. Or, they can be non-academic, like making one new friend in their class, trying out for a school team, or even standing up to a bully.

Have open discussions with your child to learn what problems they are facing this school year, and how their life may need to change. These heart-to-hearts will help them (and you) discover their goals!

Whatever their goals are, teach your child to how to set SMART goals so your child will know how to overcome challenges and keep a mindset for success. Learning to set goals builds strength of mind to succeed. Remember, “Life can be tough. Be strong.”

Looking for activities related to goal setting? Try these!

Grade 3-5 goal-setting activities.

Grade 6-8 goal-setting activities.




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