Social Goals for High School Students (A Parent’s Guide)

High school students benefit from social emotional learning education programs as they build skills to manage their mindset and resolve conflicts.

Students in high school are growing in the areas of self-awareness and management, social-awareness and belonging and decision making. 

High school students’ social development is important as teens are learning more and more strategies for self management. 

Mindset habits become more important and gaining language to have a healthy self talk. 

Social Goals for High School Students 

High school students should take the lead in setting social goals for themselves.

These goals should be focused on creating outcomes that are important to them and align with their values. 

Generally high school students should start to develop skills in the following areas:


I can interpret past events and how my body and mind reacted. 

I can face challenging situations with confidence. 

I can express pride in my own strengths without causing harm to others. 

I can identify personal factors that impact the intensity of my emotional responses. 

I can find ways to have a more positive attitude. 

I can reframe challenging situations with a growth mindset. 

I can order my priorities. 

Social Awareness and Belonging

I can make connections with others by demonstrating kindness, empathy and respect. 

I can show positive regard for peers with differing abilities. 

I can find strategies to push past stereotypes. 

I can alter my behavior based on feedback from friends and peers. 

I can make ethical decisions to stand up to injustice and bias. 

I can request and accept assistance. 

Decision Making

I can develop goals based on my past achievements. 

I can use critical thinking to inform my choices. 

I can reflect on possible outcomes to determine if I can improve my decision making. 

I can see short and long term consequences of a decision. 

I can evaluate post-secondary goals. 

Examples of Social-Emotional Goals for High School

Setting social-emotional goals with your teenager may help you get to know their personal priorities and values. 

Teenagers are empowered by responsibility and engaging them in goal setting is a great way to celebrate their growing independence and work together. 

  • I can bring my GPA up by .5 each semester. 
  • I can visit 3 colleges to gather more information about future goals. 
  • I can earn $300 for concert tickets. 
  • I can compliment my friends to communicate my friendship. 
  • I can email my teachers when I do not understand my assignments. 

If you are looking to target a particular area of social emotional growth, talk openly with your teen about your concerns.

Ask them for their thoughts and concerns. 

Your school guidance counselor may have resources to help facilitate this discussion. 

How do you set social goals?

Setting social goals with your child is a good way to have difficult conversations about social conflict and stress that you may both be feeling. 

Make a List

Start by asking your child to make a list of the concerns they are having or things they would like to change. 

It may be helpful to give your child some advanced notice to make this list. 

Talk about the list together and see if you can decide together on one topic that you would like to work on. 

You may choose to work on academic success, reducing stress, or spending time with friends. You can choose the concern that is most important to your child. 

Make a Plan

When you have chosen an issue to tackle, spend time putting some actions behind it.

If you are talking about meeting an academic goal there may be a few actions that can be helpful: 

Study Time

Communication with the teacher


Write down the steps that you and your child will take to solve the problem. 

I will improve my math grade by completing all my homework and mom will find a tutor I can meet with once a week. 

This goal clearly states what will happen and who will do it. 

Celebrate Success

Now that you have a clearly laid out goal, be sure to celebrate each time there is success made. 

A high five, special dessert or kind note are all great ways to let your teen know that you are noticing the hard work they are doing. 

Be sure you are following up to support the goal and reach out if you need resources to support the goals. 

Social Goals and IEPs

Individualized Education Plans are written for student with identified disabilities and they often include Social Emotional or SEL goals to monitor a student’s social development. 

SEL goals should be included in IEPs in high school and should foucs on self awareness and self managment.

This will allow the IEP team to support the student as they grow in this area. 

IEP goals are written in such a way that they are measurable and clearly state what the child will be able to do.  

SEL goals on an IEP may look like:

Mel will set academic goals for their core classes each quarter. 

Chris will use their reflection journal to record stressful events and use calming strategies with 90% accuracy. 

Lamar will ask for help when they do not understand an assignment with 70% accuracy. 

IEP goals should be monitored by each member of the IEP team and can be evaluated and adjusted as needed. 

How to Support Your High Schooler’s Social Development

The most important thing you can do to support the social and emotional development of your high schooler is to create a safe, open environment at home to talk about the real issues we are dealing with:

  • Stress
  • Emotions
  • Conflict
  • Peer Pressure 
  • Fear 

Model healthy emotions and healthy communication about your emotions. 

Always use respect when communicating in your family, this means listening without interrupting and listening to understand not to try to fix problems. 

If you are growing these skills alongside your teen, seek support!

Ask your pediatrician if there are any small groups or family counseling opportunities in your area. 

Reach out to the school, they often have support groups for families who are dealing with loss, anger or teen issues. 

Find the support you need by modeling healthy boundaries by asking for help when you need it. 

If you are afraid that your child may not be developing normally, speak with your pediatrician.

Pediatricians are trained in normal child development and they can help you determine the best next steps. 

Take any concerns about high stress, anxiety or depression very seriously and seek help immediately for yourself and your teen.  

Setting Social Goals for High School

It may be difficult to have conversations about difficult issues with your teen, but approaching these conversations with a goal setting framework can help open these topics. 

Setting goals is an important part of growing into adulthood and working through this process together in high school will help build that skill.

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Social Goals for High School Students