Effective Goal Setting For Muslim Children (Continued)…

Time To Get S.M.A.R.T

In the 1980s George T. Doran introduced a concept consisting of 5 specific steps to achieve effective goal setting. He named this process S.M.A.R.T goals, which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-targeted. Since then there have been slight variations to the definition of S.M.A.R.T but the principles remain the same.

So let’s begin planning out our S.M.A.R.T Goals!


Being specific when developing and defining the goal is more effective than telling yourself a general statement such as “I want to get better at basketball.” Instead a specific goal should be something like “I want to be able to get more than 6 points per game”

To create a specific goal complete the following statement:

I will (end goal or result):
by doing (what?):
every (when):


To be able to see if you are making progress and know when you have reached your goal, it needs to be measurable. This means that there needs to be steps along the way that can be assessed to see how effective they are.

For example, if your child’s goal is to save at least $20 in 3 months and they plan to do it by saving $2 every week, then they can measure this by counting the money saved each week or each month to see if they are on track.


It’s important to help your child set goals that are achievable. To do this it’s best to make sure the difficulty level is moderate.

If the goal is too difficult to reach progress will be slow and your child will lose motivation and become discouraged. If the goal is too easy the important lessons learned when being challenged will be missed.

You want your child to have to make an effort and show persistence, while feeling a sense of progress and accomplishment.

Motivation starts goals.
Persistence usually finishes them.


Your child needs to desire the end goal in order to be motivated to reach it.

I know it’s tempting to squeeze in goals that you’d like your child to achieve, such as academically, but the goal needs to be of value to them and something they feel is worthy of trying to achieve.

So if there is a specific area you want your child to improve in, rather than setting them the goal yourself, discuss the issue. See if they recognise the need for improvement or change (it may not even be on their radar!) and talk about the benefits in doing so.

Relevance also means the goal should have a purpose, like improving their skills in a particular area or gaining something of value to them. Setting a goal just for the sake of it is not going to be of any real benefit to them.


A realistic time frame needs to be set for the goal to be achieved. Consider how long it will take, is there a specific deadline? Remember to keep the time frame short for younger children, eg daily or before/after doing a specific activity.

You can download my Smart Goals Printable For Kids for your child to record their goal, or you could make your own.

Now would also be a great time to work alongside your child and set a goal for yourself!

So I’ve included a Smart Goals printable sheet for adults you can download and use as well.

Praising Effort Not Ability

Encourage your child as they work towards their goal. There are bound to be times when they hit a roadblock or lose motivation. Praise them for the effort they are putting in (not their ability)! Especially when things are hard or get difficult.

This can also be a great time to talk to your child about the times you’ve struggled to meet your goals and how you continued to try.

If your child is able to reach the goal they set, praise all the work and effort that went into it, not just the end result. Avoid using phrases like “you’re so good at….”, “you’re so clever/talented.” as these place a focus on the child’s ability, not the effort they put in.

If they weren’t able to reach their goal, discuss why your child thinks they weren’t able to do it. Do they think it was an internal or external reason? What could they do differently next time?

Encourage them to try setting the goal again (if possible), or setting a slightly different goal, this time using what they’ve learnt from their first experience.

Some handy resources are below:

Goal Setting Apps For Kids

Printable Templates

If you have any other suggestions or tips I’d love to hear them. You can leave a comment at the start of this blog post here or send me an email.

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