Another year is upon us, which means one thing: it’s time to set New Year’s resolutions. Even if you haven’t had success with resolutions in the past, setting a few with your children can help them learn self-discipline, as well as the value of setting and achieving goals.
If you’re not sure how to help your kids set healthy, realistic resolutions, don’t fret. We want to see your kids succeed just as much as you do, so we put together the following guide with potential resolutions and ways to turn them into reality.
5 Ways to Help Kids Set New Year’s Resolutions
Every adult knows how it feels to make a New Year’s resolution, only to completely forget about it by March 1. While this might not seem like a big deal to you, making a resolution and never taking steps toward achieving it can have very negative effects on children. Among other things, it can foster low self-esteem, a lack of responsibility, and a disregard for goals.
So how do you prevent New Year’s resolutions from taking a toll on your child’s psyche? Keep the following five tips in mind.
- Be a Resolution Role Model
Children learn by example, so if you want them to make and keep goals, you have to do the same. On New Year’s Eve, sit down with your kids to talk about your goals for the next year. Whether you want to eat healthier or work in the garden more, tell your kids about what you plan to do. Then follow through on those goals.
Communicating and achieving your own goals helps your kids in two ways. First, it gives them a healthy example to look toward when they’re trying to accomplish something. Second, and more importantly, it provides them with the reason why you do certain things. When they see that everything you do serves an ultimate purpose, they’ll have an easier time setting their own goals.
- Keep Resolutions Positive
Your kids should never feel like New Year’s resolutions are punishments. Instead of pointing out areas where your kids could improve, have them brainstorm skills they acquired or developed in the past year. Did they learn a difficult song on the piano? Did they pick up a new sport? Did they perform in a dance recital?
After you’ve discussed your children’s most recent achievements, have them make a list of things they want to do in a year that they can’t do now. This process sets a positive tone for the year and helps kids feel like they’re having fun.
- Suggest Resolutions-Don’t Dictate Them
Just as resolutions shouldn’t feel like punishments, your kids also shouldn’t feel like they are being forced to do something they don’t want to do. When setting resolutions, listen to your kids. What are their interests? What are their favorite subjects in school? What hobbies do they enjoy?
Use the answers to these questions to guide your kids toward goals they would enjoy trying to achieve.
- Break Resolutions Down Into Specific Goals
Whatever resolutions your kids decide to make, help turn them into a reality by breaking them down into more specific goals. If your child wants to help around the house more, make a goal for them to set the table at least three times a week. Once your child masters this goal, you can set another.
- Follow Up on Resolutions
Perhaps the most important part of goal-setting is accountability. You know how hard it is to lose weight or finish a report when you have no one to answer to-so make sure your kids have someone to answer to.
Check in with them every month or so to ask them how their resolutions are coming along. Discuss the specific goals you set in previous months, and if your child is ready to move forward, set new goals with them.
As you follow up on your child’s resolutions, remember not to nag them or belittle them if they do fail to achieve a specific goal. Instead, help them readjust their sails so they can reach their destination.
New Year’s Resolutions for Kids of All Ages
As we mentioned above, you should never set New Year’s resolutions for your children. Children need guidance, however, so here are a few age-appropriate resolution ideas you can suggest to your kids.
If you have children in preschool, try to focus their resolutions on everyday tasks, such as:
- Brushing teeth twice a day
- Putting toys away where they belong
- Playing nicely with kids and animals
Achieving small, simple tasks will help your children feel good about themselves and their ability to do what they often see as difficult tasks.
You can expand on the everyday goals above for elementary school-age kids with goals like:
- Finishing all homework tasks each night
- Studying for tests and getting good grades
- Wearing a seatbelt in both family and friends’ vehicles
- Drinking more water and milk than soda and juice
- Joining a club or learning an activity that sounds interesting, such as a sport, a music instrument, or even a school subject
These goals are great for young children because they have tangible results. The more your children see themselves succeed, the more adept they will become at recognizing success.
Kids in this age group usually like coming up with their own resolutions. Still, they could benefit from setting goals like:
- Eating the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables
- Volunteering with a school, church, or community group
- Not watching violent TV programs or movies, as well as not playing violent video games
- Talking to an adult about a tough decision
- Not giving out personal information online
- Avoiding negative self-talk
Offer these goals as suggestions if your teens struggle to come up with resolutions. Then let your kids adapt these resolutions to match their interests and preferences.
Use the tips and ideas above to help your children make the most of their New Year’s resolutions. For additional ideas on motivating kids and helping them learn, be sure to take a look at our other blog posts.