Updated: Jul 24
A new year provides an opportunity to set goals and work towards self-improvement. It’s amazing how the turn of the calendar gives you a fresh start. For children, working towards goals can be a new concept, especially for younger kids. Kids can easily learn to set goals and steps to achieve the goals, but they typically need some direction.
We have several games that focus on goal setting. These games help brainstorm ideas of goals to set, ask questions about interests and desires and will help to formulate a plan of action. There is no time like the present to get started!
New You in the New Year is the ultimate goal setting game for kids. It was designed to identify resolutions and ways to establish good habits. The game addresses self-esteem issues, organization, and setting priorities. It is open-ended, allowing the child to identify priorities and goals. It is kind of like a brainstorming session to find ideas, supports, and various ideas of how to implement a plan.
This game can be used to introduce the idea of goal-setting to a younger child, or it can be used to formulate ideas and help clarify the direction the child wants to go. Goals can often feel overwhelming and out of reach. Introducing the idea of objectives, or small, easy to complete steps along the way, can help make the goal a reality. The sense of accomplishment of completing a small objective can help fuel the desire to keep pressing on towards the bigger goal.
My Life is a deck of cards that goes along with The Game of Life. You replace the cards that come with the game with the My Life cards to transform it into a counseling game. The cards are aimed at helping children envision what they would like their life to look like when they become an adult. Real-life situations kick in and bring a realization that difficulties happen in real life, such as unexpected accidents and expenses. They are also challenged to think about whether or not they want to get married and/or have children. They can dream of the type of house they would like to live in and where they would like to live.
This game also addresses some questions about whether they would like to do things differently than their parents did. For instance, would they parent the same way or would they use a different parenting technique? What values are most important to instill in your children? The game will help them to conceptualize how they envision their future.
Kids absolutely LOVE this game! I sometimes have to hide it to redirect attention to some of my other games and resources. I have several kiddos who would choose to play this game every time they come in. There is something deeply satisfying about dreaming about the future and feeling the sense of control over choosing what it will look like. I find that some children have very rigid ideas of how they want things to go in their future and get angry when the game does not play out the way they wanted it to, while others make different choices each time.
Note: It is interesting to see the choices that are made by children when everything is left as an option. When they land on the “Get Married” space, allow them to choose whether or not they want to get married. Allow them to choose genders, or even pretend that their job is different than the options the game offers. There are cards included for children to draw their dream house or choose create a specific career card to tailor the game to their specifica plan for their lives.
Related Post: Counseling Games for Anger
The Wishing Well also incorporates goal setting. It is a solutions focused game, built upon the miracle question: if you woke up tomorrow and everything was now perfect, what would be different? The miracle question helps to identify the goal, which provides an opportunity to work on setting objectives to achieve the goal. This game breaks down the miracle question to different aspects of life, asking it from different angles. It allows children to evaluate areas of life they want to improve and which areas they already feel satisfied with.
This game is ideal to use early in the counseling relationship to help identify the presenting problem and conceptualizing goals for treatment. Each of the “wishing well” questions asks about desires in different aspects of life: family, friendships, education, and self-concept. Answers will help fill in some of the basic information needed for a thorough evaluation. It will offer a unique perspective that might not be presented when doing a typical bio-psycho-social evaluation.
Coping skills are offered to help manage emotions. Cognitive-behavioral counseling skills are woven in to help focus thoughts in a positive direction to help reduce ruminating thoughts and negative self-talk. This game is versatile, allowing it to be used with younger and older children and with most presenting problems. It could be used in individual, group, or family sessions.
Level Up is a video game themed cognitive behavioral therapy game. It is built upon the metaphor that life is like a video game: when you reach a goal it is like leveling up. When you make mistakes or miss the mark it is like having to redo a level. It focuses on being strategic about choices and considering the long term consequences for actions. Kids will also be prompted to conider where they want to be in the future and steps they can take to acheive their goals.
This game is ideal for kids who struggle with behavior issues and impulse control. They will be challenged to think of a strategic plan for their lives and steps to acheive their goals. This game will work best with tweens and early teens.