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One Step at a Time

I never learned to blow bubble gum and pop it. In order to set this up as a short-term goal for me (it’s never too late), my granddaughter once kindly broke bubble blowing into steps: 1) Chew gum until soft. 2) Flatten on roof of mouth. 3) Stretch and flatten behind front teeth. 4) Blow between teeth. 5) Let pop.

Setting small goals and making steps toward accomplishing them boosts our self-esteem at any age. This is especially true when we monitor our progress. I can write down the progress I make toward bubble blowing to encourage myself.

Children today have so many pressures to perform academically and even athletically, why not encourage them to achieve little goals that foster a sense of self-satisfaction and offer tangible rewards? Even small goals can provide themes that bring more vibrancy to everyday routines. If someone in the family sets a goal for holding his breath under water for a minute or knitting the world’s longest scarf, the rest of the family can cheer them on.

Try setting simple goals for the whole family. Learn a song by practicing one line a night, or read a long book together by tackling a chapter a week. Plan a family five-mile walk, but start by ambling several blocks and work up to your final goal. Put together a huge puzzle. Paint a mural.

Think of things you still want to learn, and do them with your child: French braiding, baton twirling, tap dancing, pogo-stick hopping. Creating small goals not only spurs us on to accomplishment, whether we’re two or 42, it helps us understand how broad and exciting life’s learning can be at any age.


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