Setting small spiritual goals each day is one way that children can take responsibility for their own moral and ethical development. This practice reinforces the value of intentionality, builds skills, and can quickly develop into a habit that will serve them well throughout life. It’s also what many trainers call a ‘brief intervention’ because it doesn’t take long to do or to assess.
The concept is simple: children identify one small goal that they want to accomplish, spend a minute thinking about what they will need to do to achieve their goal, and then move through their day with their goal in mind. At the end of the day, they reflect on whether they’ve met their goal or not, and why they did or did not succeed. If possible, they share their goals and outcomes with an accountability partner, who cheers them on and encourages them when they fall short.
Use the following script to help children begin setting daily spiritual intentions and see whether this approach will work for you as it has for many other adults and children through the ages.
Today we’re each going to choose a spiritual goal to work towards. It might be a skill we want to improve, like showing respect to others, extending hospitality, or calming ourselves when we feel stressed. Or it might relate to something we want to learn, such as how to support a friend fasting for Ramadan or ideas for promoting racial reconciliation. Whatever we choose, it should be something we can accomplish in a day.
Take a minute to think about what you are going to do, and then share with me [or a friend] by completing the following sentence: Today, I intend to….
Now that you have a goal, think about how you are going to do it. What are 1 or 2 steps you can take today to succeed in meeting your goal? Share your ideas with me [or your friend].
At the end of the day (or your time together), invite children to reflect using the following script:
Today we each set a goal to help us grow spiritually. How did you do? Did you meet your goal or did you encounter obstacles that got in your way? [Give children time to report on their experiences.] Sometimes we meet our goals and sometimes we forget or struggle. Whatever happens, tomorrow we can try again or set a new goal. What matters more than anything else is that we continue to work at being people who care for one another and make a difference in the world.