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Setting Goals with Foster Children for the New Year

The start of the new year is a great time to think about setting some new goals. We typically only think of adults setting goals like losing weight, reading more, registering for college classes, learning a new skill, and other similar objectives. Goal setting can be a healthy life skill for all children to learn. At RISE Services, Inc. Oregon, we’d like to encourage you to help your foster children set some new goals this year. Let’s take a look at how to set goals with children, why goal setting is important for them, and how you can support them in reaching their goals. 

Setting Goals with Foster Children for the New Year

Why Goal Setting Is Important for Foster Children

Children who are placed in foster care often feel lonely, scared, and anxious about their future. Teaching them how to set goals can provide a sense of control over their personal well-being. It can also take the focus off of what they cannot control (living in foster care rather than with their biological parents) and allow them to make positive changes even when their life is in a state of uncertainty.

There are several other reasons why goal setting is valuable for children in foster care:

  • It can boost their self-esteem when they realize they can accomplish a specific goal.
  • They are learning an essential life skill they can take with them whether they are united with their parents or are permanently placed with an adoptive family.
  • It teaches them how to break larger, more complex tasks into smaller and easy-to-follow action items.

Goals That Foster Children Can Work Toward

Each child is different so each child will have their own goals and aspirations. Foster children may want to accomplish something related to their foster home placement or biological parents, like writing a letter to their parents once a week or spending more time getting to know their foster siblings. They also may want to simply do something any other child would want:

  • Make new friends at school
  • Join the school basketball team
  • Improve their science grades
  • Read more non-fiction books
  • Learn a new skill like ballet or cooking
  • Get more exercise

Consider Using the SMART Method

Taking advantage of the SMART method is a great way to help your foster child break down large tasks into small steps. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Let’s say your foster child wants to improve their science grades. Here’s what that may look like:

  • Specific: “I want to get an A in science next semester.”
  • Measurable: “I need to complete each of my homework assignments every day and get an A on all my tests.”
  • Attainable: “It may be difficult to get an A, but if I do my homework every night, study for my tests, and ask for help from my teachers, I can do it.”
  • Relevant: “I want to get an A in science because I’d like to be a science teacher.”
  • Time-Bound: “I have 12 weeks to improve my science grade as that is when the semester ends.”

Tips for Helping Foster Children Set Goals

  • Sit down with them and brainstorm different goals they want to achieve.
  • Make a poster, chart, or visual element that will remind them of their goal and the steps they need to take each day or week to meet that goal.
  • Consider a motivational reward when they take certain steps or meet their final goal. Perhaps they can choose the next movie for family movie night or they can purchase that new toy or video game they’ve been wanting.
  • Remember, your only role is to guide them as they’re working toward their goal. It can be difficult to stand aside and watch them fail, but they are still learning even if they don’t accomplish what they wanted. 

Providing Supportive Host Homes for Children in Oregon

We are thankful to play a role in providing loving, caring homes for foster children in Oregon. Learn more about our host homes as well as our employment services, in-home and community services, supported living solutions, and residential services by contacting RISE Oregon today.

Source: “Goal-Setting With Children In Foster Care.” Web article. Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation. 27 Dec. 2017. Web. 10 Jan. 2023.