Learn how to help children establish New Year’s resolutions, as these annual goals aren’t just for adults! Explore various methods for assisting your children in setting attainable objectives for the coming year, fostering personal growth and a sense of achievement.
New Year’s Day is traditionally the time to celebrate a fresh start, and children aged 7 to 12 are at the right age to learn how to make resolutions. “Their habits are not yet set in stone,” says Christine Carter, Ph.D., and author. “They are mature enough to understand a New Year’s resolution and set their own, but parents can still provide guidance. They will not face the same opposition as a teenager.”
Parent and child therapist Jennifer Kolari says, “They are beginning to be conscious and comprehend the views of others. They are becoming increasingly self-reliant and beginning to embrace a larger vision of becoming their best selves.”
Making resolutions with your children may be a time of growth and transformation and an occasion for family togetherness. Read on for advice on helping children make New Year’s resolutions and maintain them throughout the year.
Be Resolution Role Models
Parents must practice what they teach. Clinical psychologist and art therapist Robin Goodman, Ph.D., who has authored books on children and stress, asks, “Do you believe in, create, and keep resolutions?” “In order to be most effective, you must practice what you preach.”
Communicate your resolutions to your children.
Bring your personal resolutions to the table in the kitchen. “This is a fantastic activity for the entire family,” explains Kolari. “This is how we manage our three children. Children look to you for guidance on how to complete this activity.”
Explain the rationale for your resolutions.
Try to provide a clear, age-appropriate explanation of your resolutions and urge youngsters to adopt them. Here is an example of a possible response: “My father and I have made resolutions that we are trying diligently to keep. We attempt to prepare meals at home six times per week. Although we may not always feel like cooking, it is essential for our budget.” Adapt the script to your specific objectives.
Set an example.
Also, you cannot ask children to make resolutions you do not follow yourself. “If you want your children to leave the house earlier, you must focus on yourself,” advises Dr. Carter. “When I was regularly prepared at the time I wanted to depart, I was able to ask my children to make adjustments. Let’s not ask more of them than we’re willing to accomplish ourselves.”
Maintain a Positive Attitude Towards Resolutions
Setting resolutions on New Year’s Day has a joyful air that is absent at other times of the year. It’s all about happiness! Every day is a fresh beginning, and you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself. A great deal depends on your tone. If you present it in a harsh, preachy manner, it will be turned off.
Start by reviewing the excellent accomplishments your children had last year. “Rather than pointing out flaws, be the historian of their past achievements,” advises Dr. Carter. “Highlight the areas where they are performing well.”
Ask children to consider what they can do now that they couldn’t last year. Consider that your 10-year-old has mastered a challenging piano piece. Did they achieve success because they exerted a bit more effort? Remind them of how far their additional effort carried them. Then, ask your child, “How can you apply your piano skills to other areas of your life?”
You’ve prepared the scene. Next, anticipate and ask, “What are some of the exciting things you hope to do this year? What do you wish to enhance? What will improve your life and make you happier?”
Resolutions should be proposed rather than dictated.
At this moment, parents are faced with a crucial question: Should you establish resolutions for your child? Probably not, since you want to teach them to develop their own objectives.
Even while children should make their own resolutions, you can still provide guidance. Examples of helpful measures include:
- Indicating broad groups for modification.
- Helping your youngster define objectives.
- Ensure that they are age-appropriate.
The first stage, according to Kolari, is to listen. “Request their desires for themselves. If your goal dominates the discussion, you are not listening.”
Create some categories.
Still, the majority of children require assistance. Create three or four broad categories, such as personal objectives, friendship goals, helping goals, and academic goals, and allow students to fill in the details.
Ask children how they wish to develop.
Cox, who delivers workshops on family customs, recommends that parents inquire, “Is there anything you could do differently or better? How should you, for instance, care for yourself or treat others?” If they are at a loss for words, you might provide some examples, such as being nicer to siblings, sharing more with friends, and contributing more around the house.
Establish material objectives.
Your children may also have “material aspirations,” according to Kolari, such as collecting toys. She says, “Don’t remark, ‘That’s not a good goal.'” Instead, be receptive to what they value. It’s a terrific method to engage your children in meaningful conversation and learn what they’re thinking.
Keep the list of resolutions brief.
It is important to make a reasonable number of resolutions. “Two or three is a reasonable number,” adds Kolari.
“We don’t want to educate our children that setting a long list of resolutions and failing to keep them is OK,” says Dr. Carter. “Assist your child in selecting a few items to concentrate on.”
Have your child jot down their top three resolutions on a clean sheet of paper, giving extra room between each one for the addition of smaller actions. Dr. Carter’s habit tracker is an excellent instrument for this purpose.
Make SMART goals.
This can be a great approach to teach your children to SMART goals: is the goal specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound?
Dr. Goodman advises, “Be concrete, detailed, and workable.” “As with adults, good-sounding but ambiguous resolutions do not result in change. For instance, “I will behave better” is too vague and will be quickly forgotten.” Instead, support attainable goals so that kids do not become discouraged.
Possible realistic resolutions for children include:
- “I will keep my room cleaner.”
- “I will become a better buddy.”
- “I intend to read more.”
- “I’m going to get better at tennis.”
Cox suggests letting your child make a list that is fun and personal. My son often included a few phrases and elaborate graphics with his drawings.
Take Baby Steps Towards Large-Scale Resolutions
She explains, “Self-discipline is like a muscle that grows slowly.” “If you undertake too much at the outset, you will become exhausted and fail.” According to Dr. Carter, it takes six weeks to form a habit. That is, however, an average. According to research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it took participants between 18 and 245 days to form a new routine.
Make “turtle steps.”
According to Dr. Carter, one of the most crucial skills we can teach our children is the transformation of a good intention into a habit. “It is the secret to a happy existence.” She recommends that parents assist children in breaking down their resolutions into “ridiculously easy turtle stages.”
Your child’s progress toward their long-term objective can be aided by the achievement of smaller objectives. For instance, if your child’s resolve is “I’m going to keep my room neater,” he or she may write down six little, simple tasks and practice one each week, such as putting shoes in the closet the first week, picking up the pillow the second week, and so on. Your child may end up doing significantly more than this. She states, “There is a significant spillover impact.” “Once people are invested in their objective, they will perform additional tasks as well.”
Additionally, Dr. Goodman believes in breaking down broad resolutions into particular, quantifiable stages. Her instances:
- I will contribute more around the house by setting the dinner table.
- I will enhance my reading by spending fifteen minutes reading before night.
- I will consume more nutritious foods by consuming one fruit for breakfast and one veggie for dinner.
Now that your child’s goals are defined, quantifiable, and attainable, it is more likely that they will be attained. And resolutions are inherently time-bound, with a yearly assessment built in! Indeed, this is a SMART move.
Follow Up, but Don’t Pester About New Year’s Resolutions
It is acceptable to check in with children weekly and acknowledge their progress, but Dr. Carter warns against giving them physical rewards. “You cannot bribe children to do this. Once incentives are made external, they are lost.”
“Do not fret over lapses. Count on them. A slip is forgetting for a couple of days or having a week where the turtle step did not function. Or perhaps you were on vacation and unable to practice. That is not failure; it is merely an attempt. No major transformation is ever done flawlessly, “explains Dr. Carter.
Additionally, avoid nagging about this, urges Kolari. If your child is not progressing toward a resolution, “It seemed like a good plan, but it is difficult to follow through. Ask, “What is getting in your way?” Help them regain their enthusiasm for it.”
Make the resolutions readily available.
She recommends presenting the resolutions as a visual reminder to prevent parental nagging. Cox concurs. “Ensure the resolutions are accessible so they can be easily located. You may create a monthly ritual in which you bring them out and discuss how everyone is doing.”
Obviously, if the plan is not working, it can be altered. Dr. Goodman advises, “If you get lost, figure out another method to get there.”
This is what occurred when Dr. Carter’s daughter established a daily goal of getting ready for school 15 minutes sooner. “She considered her six turtle steps, but it turned out to be difficult. Some of them were not sufficiently tangible. Therefore, she replaced them with simpler alternatives. She performed halvsies till the objective was met. The beauty of letting children select their own objectives is that they desire them for themselves.”
Make Resolutions as a Family
Families become closer via resolutions, especially when they decide to set goals together. Families could arrange to undertake one charitable act per month and discuss potential activities. You may, for instance, pick up litter in a park or donate discarded clothing and toys to a shelter. As long as you’re working on it jointly, everything is fine, according to Kolari.
Another suggestion is for everyone to make two personal and two families New Year’s resolutions, such as “Let’s go see Grandma more frequently.” or “Let’s arrange a trip to Disney World.”
Many parents recommend performing acts of kindness with their children as part of their New Year’s resolutions. Kindness is the holy grail of habits, according to Dr. Carter. “It is so generally beneficial. When children intentionally practice being nice, they become happier individuals, and the world improves. My children and I consider the people we can assist in our lives, and we choose one to focus on during the week. For instance, we have a retired neighbor who enjoys chatting with the children for a bit. You cannot force children to be kind, but you may suggest it in the hopes that they will be inspired.”
Establish New Year’s Resolutions as a Tradition
The family becomes closer when family members sit down and discuss their resolutions. However, you may make it more significant by incorporating ceremonial aspects.
Utilizing as many of the five senses as you can when creating new rituals, according to Cox, is one of the most crucial rules. Try the following sensory-based examples:
Play the family’s most beloved songs.
Cook a pleasant treat that smells good to enjoy while or after making resolutions, such as hot chocolate with marshmallows or warm apple cider with cinnamon.
Touch and sight: Purchase tiny objects to represent what may occur in the coming year, such as a globe for travel, a football for sports, a book for academic success, etc. Wrap the items in festive paper and place them in a bowl. Each member chooses a present (or “charm”) that “predicts” something about their New Year’s adventures.
Cox asserts that modern families tend to live secluded lives. “Talking about what is important to each other is a bonding experience.” So switch off your technological devices — no texting — and focus on one another.
Excellent New Year’s resolutions for Children
Here are some wise tips for children’s New Year’s resolutions.
Eating more healthily.
Two examples of healthy resolutions are “I will drink two glasses of milk each day.” and “I will eat fruit at lunch each day.” Obviously, your children should be adapted to their specific requirements.
Kristen Eastman, Psy.D., a pediatric clinical psychologist at Cleveland Children’s Hospital, advises, “Target the area in which you and your child need to improve and express why it is essential to you.” Therefore, if you wish to consume less fast food, discuss what you would eat instead. If you need to drink more vegetables, determine a set number for the week, etc.
To become more active.
“I will join a soccer team” or “On Saturdays, I will attend a yoga class with my mother” are examples of objectives focusing on increased physical exercise. Obviously, these are fantastic resolutions, but according to Dr. Eastman, the phrase “exercise” can be monotonous. Fun information is more likely to be retained.
More reading, less displays.
“We will read for 30 minutes before night instead of watching television” is a specific objective that simultaneously aims to reduce screen time and increase reading time. It is not sufficient to declare, “We will decrease screen time,” Indicate how much you and your child will reduce and what you will do in its place.
Assisting the house.
The resolutions “I will set the table every night” and “I will help clean my room once a week” are ideal chore-related resolutions for children. It is usually a good idea to assign children duties because it can help them feel wanted and valuable. Plus, you’ll receive some assistance around the house!
Being kind or establishing friends.
Relationship-based resolutions include “I’m going to perform one random act of kindness per week” and “I’m going to chat to one individual at school I’ve never met each week.” Additionally, a social resolution should be tailored to your child and the area in which they wish to improve. Therefore, a shy youngster would likely have a different resolution (such as the one above) than a child whose goal is to be more sociable.
Increasing environmental responsibility.
“We’re going to start a recycling program at home” or “we’re going to take five-minute showers to save water” are examples of eco-friendly resolutions. “Decide as a family what it means to be environmentally conscious and how to translate it into a practical family goal,” advises Dr. Eastman.
Learning a new skill.
“I’m going to learn how to make chocolate chip cookies” or “I’m going to learn how to sing” are examples of resolutions that can encourage your children to acquire new skills. Learning new talents is a resolution that everyone anticipates with enthusiasm.
Participating in additional family activities.
Family time is centered on specific goals, such as “We will have game night every Friday” and “We will eat breakfast together every Sunday.” Spending more time with family and having fun may be the easiest resolution to keep.
Meaningful articles you might like: How to Teach Your Children Gratitude During Thanksgiving, How To Teach Kindness To Children, Holiday Customs That Encourage Healthy Development