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Filling Nutritional Gaps
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- Family health goals extend beyond just physical health - we want to feel whole, loved, secure and valued
- Long term family health goals are likely to be much more attainable if you break them into specific steps, and share them with others who have a stake in them
- Asking questions can guide you if you are stuck or need help when coming up with family health goals
Family Health Goals (1 of 2)
Family and relationship goals prompt us to dive deeper in our relationships with those we love most and nurture those connections. It’s an important part of wellness to ensure that your family doesn’t just survive living together, but that each family member thrives. Part of this is equipping our children to grow up into healthy adults. We don’t want them to just be physically healthy (although we will be discussing family health goals as well), we want them to feel whole, loved, secure and valued. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it’s extremely difficult for a child to reach their full potential without establishing these other psychological needs (1).
Family goals and values are deeply interconnected. Your family goals will be directly affected by your values, so it’s important to briefly define your priorities first. Each family goals’ meaning should be a clear representation of your plans to highlight the family, either in a more unifying way or in a way that can boost your family’s engagement with one another. There are a number of goals you can make: streamlining ones, relational ones and goals to help get the family on the same page. Some families focus on vacation goals, while others find ways to incorporate fun into the week-to-week schedule with family game nights.
It would be beneficial to include your family in the planning process as you determine together what family goals you’d like to focus on, and will help get family members invested in the idea from the start. Family goals (and rewards, if you’d like, once those goals are reached) can be a fun way to draw your family closer together as you reflect on what makes yours unique. Rather than attempting to provide a comprehensive list on the topic, we’re going to provide you with a few starting points that will help energize you to create your own specific family goals.
Types of Family Goals
As we touched on earlier, there are several types of family goals. Relationship goals can be broken down into couple goals, sibling goals and parent-child goals. Health goals can be about getting more exercise, sunshine and play, or eating together at the table and having more vegetables. Chore-specific goals encourage kids to get their work done to earn an allowance or other reward, and academic goals push kids to do better in school.
You can even make family and friends goals: a goal to introduce some of your friends to your family members. This is especially helpful for those who have teenagers in the home that are hesitant to introduce friends. The great thing about making these goals is that, once you’ve set the goal and spoken with the family about it, the teamwork involved in bringing it to pass is rewarding in itself. It helps the family focus on what’s important, and when that goal is met, it can be such a positive encouragement to everyone. Meeting goals helps build confidence, autonomy and self-esteem, and is a springboard for success later on in life (2).
Other family goals include: planting a family garden, preparing for school the night before to ensure mornings aren’t rushed, eating and taking vitamins together at the same time of day, an hour a day of outside play for kids, mini-vacation planning that leads up to a big family vacation, as well as personal goals for each family member to work on and achieve themselves.
Experts advise setting SMART goals: Goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound to encourage you to take action on a regular basis (3). Many families start out with 90-day goals and then change or add to the goal once the primary ones have been firmly established (4). Doing this can be incredibly beneficial, as it encourages families to build upon their former successes and continue upward onto greatness and unity.
Parents’ Goals for their Child
Parents’ goals for their child are often different from the child’s goals. Most parents struggle in at least one area with their kids, whether it’s the waking/sleeping routine, getting them to eat right or encouraging them to help out around the house. Despite these struggles, parents should really work to pay attention to their kids’ desires as well.
Smart goals for parents will include a mix of both: the parents’ goals for the child and the child’s personal goals (either for themselves or relationally with their parents). Develop Good Habits’ website has shared 10 SMART goals for children and is definitely worth a look if you’re in need of more academic ideas. For relational goals, many kids would like more time with their parents, and there are several things kids would love their parents to do with them (5).
Some teens tend to be less interested in parent time, but may be open to the idea of you treating them and their friends to a loosely-chaperoned hangout session. Take small steps in the right direction if you can’t take bigger ones. Even if your child is totally opposed to you, there are very few things in life that are more important than your child, and making those time investments will eventually pay off in the future as the child sees that you are responding to them in a respectful and loving manner (6).
A word of caution: if your child is involved in a number of activities, check-in with them often to ensure that it’s what the child wants, since too many extracurricular activities can be harmful to children, as well as family relationships (7). It’s better to spend meaningful amounts of time with your kids than for everyone to be cranky and irritated because of over-extensive schedules.
Family Long Term Goals
Whether it’s a family project you’d like to get started on, like painting the house, or the opposite of work, like a nice vacation to the Bahamas, goals will be easier to attain once they’re set, broken up into specific steps, and shared with the group. A study by Gail Matthews showed that 76% of participants that wrote down their goals, actions, and gave weekly progress to a friend achieved their goals. In comparison, those who only wrote down their goals succeeded only 43% of the time, so support is a crucial part of making your family’s long term goals (8).
Long-term goals for family health can include goals like including two veggies or fruits at each meal every day for a year, or adding 30 minutes of exercise each day to your schedule. Other goals include training for a marathon (best for families with older kids) or walk-a-thon together.
Long-term goals for a child who’s prone to pickiness might include trying one new food a day. One sneaky way to get picky eaters on-board is to encourage them to try the food in stages. First, they smell the food. If they like the smell or are curious about it, they can briefly taste it by licking it. If they are still curious, they can take one bite. If the child knows that you just want them to try it (and aren’t going to try to force them to eat foods they dislike), they’ll be more likely to take the leap.
This technique is surprisingly effective and you may find your kids enjoying more exotic foods such as tikka masala, potstickers, sushi, and more. If it doesn’t work, however, there’s no rule saying you can’t sneak some veggies and good foods into your regular meal prep. Jessica Seinfeld has written an entire book on the subject titled Deceptively Delicious, so if you’re looking for some food hacks you’re bound to find them. Other tips include adding cauliflower to mashed potatoes, grating carrots or zucchini into meat mixes and sauces, tossing them into smoothies and using zoodles instead of pasta.
Family Goals Template
At the family meeting where you’ll set your goals, it can be helpful to ask questions to guide your goal-making process. These questions can include asking about family challenges, things that you’d like to improve upon, what you’d do with more free time, family motivators and more. This can go hand-in-hand with the question of what makes your family unique, or it can offer the family ways to step out of their comfort zones and try something new.
This ultimately belongs to your family, so use these questions or come up with some of your own to decide what to include. You can also ask questions ahead of time to plan for obstacles, measure successes, and stay focused. Afterward, re-evaluate and assess the progress. What did you do well? What could be done differently? Should the unachieved goals be readjusted (do you need more time to complete tasks, or was part of the goal unrealistic)?
If you’ve been looking for a family goals template, you’re in luck. We’ve found several and would be more than happy to share them with you! Note that not every parenting goals worksheet is created equal, however. Some, for example, are very simple and straightforward, listing a personal goal, a date to accomplish the goal by, steps to take to reach the goal and an assessment for afterward.
Others are a bit more complicated, with goals broken down into categories (such as personal goal, family goal, marriage goal and school goals). Some family and personal goal setting worksheets are even more detailed. This one has a personal goal worksheet and a family goal worksheet with a book section, word and theme of the year, new things to try, new adventures to take and things to learn together. It is intended for use at the beginning of the year but could easily be adapted for year-round use.
- McLeod, Saul. “Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.” Simply Psychology, 29 December 2020, https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html. Accessed 26 May 2021.
- Chowdhury, Madhuleena Roy. “The Science and Psychology of Goal-Setting 101.” Positive Psychology, 18 May 2021, https://positivepsychology.com/goal-setting-psychology/. Accessed 27 May 2021.
- Ong, Carla. “How the Experts Set SMART Goals and KPIs.” Envisio, 3 November 2015, https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/business/smart-goals. Accessed 27 May 2021.
- Counts, Emily. “Why You Should Have 90-Day Goals.” Small Stuff Counts, 21 December 2017, https://smallstuffcounts.com/goal-setting-worksheet-90-day-goals/. Accessed 27 May 2021.
- Kurt, Erin. “The Top 10 Things Children Really Want Their Parents to Do with Them.” Lifehack, 29 December 2009, https://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/the-top-10-things-children-really-want-their-parents-to-do-with-them.html. Accessed 27 May 2021.
- J, N. “10 Strategies for Dealing with a Defiant Teen.” Middle Earth, 12 October 2015, https://middleearthnj.org/2015/10/12/10-strategies-for-dealing-with-a-defiant-teen/. Accessed 27 May 2021.
- Pedersen, Traci. “Too Many Extracurricular Activities for Kids May Do More Harm Than Good.” PsychCentral, 18 May 2018, https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/05/15/too-many-extracurricular-activities-for-kids-may-do-more-harm-than-good#2. Accessed 27 May 2021.
- Traugott, John. “Achieving Your Goals: An Evidence-Based Approach.” Michigan State University, 26 August 2014, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/achieving_your_goals_an_evidence_based_approach. Accessed 27 May 2021.
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