This Guest Post comes from a new online friend whose website really impresses me not only from a content perspective, but the information comes straight from the mouth of a recent teen herself. Vanessa Van Petten – author of “You’re Grounded! How to Stop Fighting and Make the Teenage Years Easier” – is a great writer with lots of creative ideas. She writes a parenting blog along with 12 other teen writers from the kid’s perspective to help parents. Her work as a young family peacemaker has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Teen Vogue, her local FOX and CBS affiliates, and now…The MomTini Lounge! Enjoy! – Amy

Giving Focus: 6 Questions to Motivate Your Kids Before a New Semester
by Vanessa Van Petten

“Ughhhhh, do we have to practice getting up early?” Before school every year my parents decided to torture themselves and us by making us ‘practice getting up early for school’ the last week of winter break. This always seemed like the absolute cruelest thing to do—talk about ruining the end of winter break.

Now, as a 23-year-old looking back, I understand where they were coming from. They wanted us to get our bodies in the habit of the school schedule so we were not as cranky and going back would not be such a shock.

I am currently working with hundreds of families, plus the emails I get from parent readers on my blog about what they can do to help their kids have a smooth transition and do great this new semester. It is all about goals:

What is a (good) Goal?

Everyone’s definition is different, talk to your kids about what they think goals are and goals they have had in the past, that have worked or not. Explain that ‘good’ goals are:

Quantifiable (You can measure their success or not)

Reasonable (They can be reached and are attainable)

Specific (They deal with a certain area…big goals can be broken down into smaller ones)

Exciting (Remember these are your kid’s goals, not yours, make sure they are motivated to achieve them or you are setting them up for failure)

Make Goals

I think making goals and teaching kids how to make goals is one of the most important things parents can do before school. First, talk to them about their goals in the following areas:

-What are your goals for your grades this year?
-What are your goals for your teachers this year?
-What are your goals for organization this year? (backpack, locker, desk)
-What are your goals for extra-curricular activities?
-What are your goals for amount of sleep?
-Make some of your own!

Goal Checkpoints

Now that you have goals for the year, make a note in your calendar that once a month you will go over each goal’s progress. I also like to make year-long goals with my clients as well as monthly smaller goals.

Goal Celebrations

If you achieve a goal do not just check it off the list—celebrate your child’s accomplishment and tell your student while you are making the goals that you will be celebrating each and every A, each and ever gold star or each and every club joined!
Goals help keep your kids organized, focused and motivated for the school year and this is a great exercise for you and your kids to do together.