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What We're Learning: Intention-Setting with Kids

In our last post, we challenged you to set an intention for your year and we promised that we'd be doing the same. Guess what? "Intention-setting" is an incredibly abstract concept! Heck, even as an adult, it might have taken me a yoga class or two before I realized what my teacher was asking me to do. Our girls get it, but the framing is critical.



To save you some time and confusion, here's what we've learned and a guide for setting intention with your own kiddos.


What We Learned

  • It's easiest to explain intention by comparing it to a goal or a resolution. You know if you've reached a goal. But with intention-setting, it's more about cultivating a new habit or mindset. The work is never really done, and that's part of the magic.

  • Building on that, we didn't initially realize that setting intention is predicated on having a growth mindset! Growth mindset means acknowledging that nothing is ever fixed or perfect -- we can always learn, grow, and improve, and this change requires effort. If you want to practice an intention, you first acknowledge that things can always change.

  • Intention-setting is deeply personal. Some of our girls, particularly the older ones, may have experienced this activity as a crash-course in vulnerability. We saw intentions like "take risks" and "try to find the spark in life", and it was clear that these came from a place of deep longing and experiences we can't know. Lest we forget, our children also feel that tugging need to go deeper, strive more. They also experience the need for a sense of belonging or self-direction.

What We Said

How many of you have heard of a “New Year’s Resolution”? How many of you have one? (call on one or two to share theirs). Resolutions are usually kind of like a goal - something you want to accomplish. And you know whether you've achieved it because it's very specific.


In the Spitfire Club, we are going to do something a little different. We are going to each set an intention for our time together. An intention is different from a resolution or a goal because an intention is how you’d like to live your life - it's a way of being, behaving, or thinking. Raise your hand if you think that your actions have an impact on your life and those around you? That’s right, they do. And so deciding how we’d like to live our lives can make a big difference not just for us but for everyone around us.


Now, let’s use our imaginations. I need you to get comfortably seated criss-cross applesauce and close your eyes - no talking for right now. Just use your mind and think about your answers to these questions. It’s a new year. You’re halfway through this school year. Maybe you’ve learned some new things about yourself. Maybe you want to grow and work on certain skills. Maybe you’ve learned something nice about yourself and you want to remember to use this quality more. Ok, now think about who you are at your happiest, what you’re doing and who you are with. (pause) Now let's open our eyes.


What were you thinking about? (listen to one or two responses). I was thinking about myself and (insert plausible scenario. e.g., “I thought about how good I feel when I try my hardest. Even when I don’t succeed, it feels really good to know that I tried”). So I think my intention is going to be (e.g., “to do my best”). There are a lot of other good intentions, too. You could set an intention to “always find the fun”. Or maybe your intention is to look for ways to “be a helper”. What do you think your intention might be?"


If that doesn't work and they're struggling to pick an intention, suggest thinking about a motto or something that they might see on a poster in their cafeteria. More examples never hurt, either!


Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

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