Teach your children planning skills

Travelling back from the village after the Christmas festival saw us reach home at around 9pm. All tired, the children went to bed immediately after showering. However, 30 minutes later, as I checked in the boys’ bedroom, I found our 8-year-old still awake. “David, what are you still doing after opting for sleeping in place of supper?” I was impressed by his response, “Dad, I am working on my New Year’s plan before I sleep.” The next day, we encouraged the others to make their New Year resolutions and write a 10-point plan. It was amazing what they intend to achieve, inasmuch as some of their plans were not very clear or achievable. With that, we guided them to write the plans well which they did it better.

We are less than two months into 2022 and it is not too late to plan for the year. Usually, it is the adults who plan on behalf of their families. Oftentimes, children are not involved in these plans yet they are the target beneficiaries. Sometimes, we think their views may not be important or they are still young to plan. Some of our 6-year-old girl’s plans amazed us; working hard, reading her books and bible, and helping the needy. We asked her how she intends to achieve her plans and she was very clear.

There is a saying that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. A good life does not just happen as we must live in a strategic and orderly manner. Therefore, planning, even among children, is an essential element that we need in our lives because while some people overlook it, it is a prerequisite for success. For instance, planning helps us to be focused on our goals with a time frame, gives us direction, and holds us accountable.

Guide your children in writing SMART plans

We all have plans in our minds but without writing, forgetting is eminent. Writing out our plans also helps for future reference and can be a reminder. Therefore, ask your children to make and present their plans in a written format.

However, some plans may not be specific and realistic. It is better the plans are very SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound). They should be clear to all, easy to understand, implement and achieve. In that light, help your children in that regard so they make good plans.

Involve them in family/business plans

At the start of the year, some parents have retreats to re-energise as well as plan for their families. However, it is sad when the people they are planning for are not part of the planning process let alone consulted even on simple things. However, they are expected to follow the plans to the letter. Your children, regardless of the age, are able to tell you what they desire for their family, their personal dreams, and the businesses they prefer. Moreover, they also have new ideas they can add to the family’s bigger picture. Parents need not shut these ideas down as they matter. The success of your family depends on how you are raising your children. Therefore, make evaluations together and seek solutions with them. This will inform your next step of planning for this year or the years to come.

Attach a budget

Plans always come with activities that require resources for successful implementation. That calls for budgeting. For example, you cannot plan to build a house without knowing the resources you will need. Budgeting will help you avoid spending beyond your means and plans save for emergencies.  Involving the children in this process means they also get to appreciate your labour besides picking lessons.

Teach them to dream big

While planning with your children is amazing, you could go a step further to encourage them to dream big. Big dreams will motivate them to work hard and plan well for their future. You could ask them what they intend to do in the future, how will they achieve their dreams, the resources they need/have, and which people can help them reach their goals. There is no wrong in having children with bigger visions, just guide them to ensure they are realistic and achievable without belittling them. This will motivate them to start the planning process for their future.

Make priorities and take action

They may have many plans for their life or for this year and it is okay. However, from that pool, let them learn to prioritize. Thus ask them to rank their plans according to what is more important, what they desire to start with or where a lot of concentration is needed. For example, among students, academic improvement/excellence may be one of them. When all planning is done and all is set, remind them that dreams that are not worked on die thus need to start working on fulfilling them. With that, ensure that they implement what they planned according to their timeframe to keep them accountable!

Personal core values, vision, and mission

As you teach your children to plan, encourage them to develop their personal core values, vision and mission. Life without a vision is like life without hope and a future or journey without a destination. A child with a clear vision and mission sets good goals for the future and works hard to secure them. On the other hand, personal values serve as guiding principles to our actions and decisions and provide a foundation to a lasting house. Therefore, core values are instrumental in our decisions, actions, and shaping our behaviours. That is why Joseph was able to overcome pressure from Potiphar’s wife because he stood his ground according to what he believed in (Gen. 39:8-9).

Commit all your plans to God

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. That is because without His help, we cannot fulfil them successfully (Proverbs 16:3, 9, Psalm 37:5). Unless the Lord builds the city, the builders labour in vain (Psalm 127:1). Therefore, put God first in everything you do, He will also do it for you.

The writer is a child advocate, parenting coach, marriage counsellor & founder – Men of Purpose mentorship programme.

By Dickson Tumuramye