I just saw this on a local swimming website for parents and thought it was right on target. Translate to your own situation. Some of it applies very well to those of us who are no longer 6 or 7:
Q: What are "Process" goals?
A: There are two types of goals that swimmers can set:
Outcome Goals: focus on the end result of performance. “Win, make finals.”
Process Goals: relate to process of performance. “Breathe every 3rd stroke, streamline.”
Swimmers have much more control over Process Goals. Outcome Goals are uncontrollable since they also involve the performance of other competitors. Swimmers and coaches, especially at the Age Group level, should concentrate on Process Goals.
Q: Should my child begin setting goals?
A: Of course! Everyone should set goals. In fact, most kids have already set goals. As adults, however, we must remember that kids are not simply little versions of us and are not going to set the same types of goals as adults. One developmental difference is that children lack the cognitive ability to distinguish time and are also very concrete thinkers. Therefore, setting long-term goals often doesn't provide the motivation for kids that it does for adults. Kids want results today. With younger swimmers, it is appropriate to talk about short-term goals - - what they need to work on today. Most coaches will emphasize goals that reinforce skill development and the process of swim performance. Additionally, based on cognitive development research, we know that around the age of 6 or 7, kids enter the stage of social comparison. In this stage, they begin to evaluate their own performance by comparing it to others. So as the parent, reinforce what the coach has emphasized and help her focus on individual improvement.
Encourage your child's goal to be “SMART”.
S pecific: tells the athlete what to do
M easurable: able to measure and record progress
A ttainable: athlete can experience success
R ealistic: challenging but “do-able”
T rackable: short-term goals build into long-term goals