With so many distractions at a teen girl's fingertips -- internet, cell phones, social media and others -- it's essential for a teen girl to set goals to stay focused. Adolescent health professionals at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation recommend teen girls use the S.M.A.R.T. method to obtain goals. The acronym stands for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Specific goals are clear and direct, measurable goals allow teens to track progress, attainable and realistic goals set teens up for success, and timely goals keep teens on target.
Teen girls are often interested in setting goals geared toward appearance -- having a clear complexion, clothing size or hairstyle. But, parents should encourage teen girls to set healthy appearance goals -- proper facial cleaning routine, a healthy and regular exercise regimen, a healthy diet. A 2012 "Huffington Post" article, "The Media's Influence on Our Daughters," reveals that significant "appearance problems" among teen girls are highly influenced by media messages. Mary Pritchard, a Boise State University professor, explains that teens are bombarded with messages that relate images of beauty that are difficult for the typical teen girl to measure up to. Such messages contribute to many teen girls' body image issues or self-esteem.
Many teen girls desire to exceed in their academic lives in preparation for college and their chosen career paths. In order to diversify college applications, teen girls should set goals to pursue extracurricular activities including sports, student clubs and community organizations. Common academic goals include improving grades and earning awards or acknowledgments for academic excellence. GirlsHealth.gov, a website maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, encourages young teen girls to complete high school and consider college, because research shows that earning potential increases with higher educational levels.
Romance is often a major aspect of teen girls' lives. It's important for teen girls to identify whether or not they're personally interested in pursuing intimate, romantic relationships, or if they feel pressured to have a boyfriend by their friends or peers, notes Boston Children's Hospital's Center for Young Women's Health's website. Teen girls should set goals that intrinsically motivate them -- and are respectful of their parents' rules -- as opposed to setting goals and engaging in behaviors that are simply pleasing to peers. A teen girl might set a goal of practicing abstinence, only maintaining platonic relationships. A teen girl interested in engaging in sexual activity might set goals to speak with a parent, trusted adult or authority figure to gain information about the risks of sexual activity, and how to practice safe sex.
Teen girls have many reasons to set financial goals -- iPods, iPads, cell phones, designer clothes, and so on -- and are able to reach these goals in a number of ways. Teen girls might decide to work part-time at local fast food restaurants, retail or department stores. Other teen girls might take the entrepreneurial route and start a babysitting or dog-walking business. While teen girls may be eager to begin employment to make extra money, KidsHealth.com recommends that parents and teen girls ensure their job is safe. For example, teens should only babysit for responsible, reliable families. KidsHealth.com also notes that the retail industry is the second-most hazardous industry, so teens and parents should be aware of any potential safety hazards associated with a new retail job.
- Northern Illinois University: College of Education: Setting Goals for Teens
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Setting and Achieving Goals
- Huffington Post: Parents: The Media's Influence on Our Daughters
- Center for Young Women's Health: Healthy Relationships
- KidsHealth: Making Sure Your Teen's Job is Safe