New Year’s resolutions are an opportunity to inspire change. But, contrary to popular belief, they aren’t just for adults. There is plenty of room for every individual to learn and grow, especially with all of the promise and opportunity that a brand new year provides. Even preschool aged children can set age-appropriate goals when given the right guidance and support. So why not encourage your child(ren) to share in this age-old New Year’s practice?
Finding simple and practical ways for everyone in the family to make the right resolution for them, whatever that may be, can be a healthy and positive experience. Plus it can be a lot of fun! Remember, resolutions don’t need to be limited to one, and they don’t need to be overly ambitious or complicated. You could have many – for example, one as a family and one or more as an individual. They can pertain to various different aspects of life: academic/business, physical, social, artistic, etc.
Here are 10 tips to foster your children’s success in making (and keeping) resolutions
- Make it a family tradition. Traditions not only bring families together, they create lasting memories. In a survey that asked children what they remember most about their childhood, a majority of kids responded by talking about simple traditions.
- Be a role model. Share your resolutions as parents, both success stories and failures. It’s not only good for your children to know you’ve been successful, it’s important that they know that on the path toward success, you overcame obstacles. It’s in the face of adversity where we show great strength.
- Avoid the negative. Language is powerful, and how you phrase certain things matters. For example, it’s better to say, “Spend more free time reading books,” than “spend less time on your screen.
- Be realistic. Start small and change one behavior at a time. Think baby steps. Biting off more than you can chew is a recipe for disaster. And remember, the hardest part is often just starting.
- Be specific. For example, “Spend 20 minutes reading each day.”
- Identify possible challenges. Then determine ways to overcome them. For example, if I sleep out of the house and forget my book, I can read double the next day. Or I can put a note in my overnight bag to remind me to pack my book.
- Create a timeline. Be realistic about how long you need to accomplish your goal. Set up smaller targets along the way toward your big goal. For example, “Read 10 minutes 4x per week. After a month, increase to 10 minutes every night. etc.”
- Track your progress. Keep a daily log of your efforts / success. It’s easy to forget how much progress you’ve made, especially when there’s been a setback. There’s no better reminder than seeing it in black and white.
- Set incentives and/or give rewards. And celebrate both big and small achievements. While this can be a controversial topic, it truly depends on the situation and the individual. Rewards can be especially useful when the goal is self-induced. In fact, they are proven to affect intrinsic motivation. Director of the Yale Parenting Center, psychologist Alan Kazdin says, “The more your child does the good things you reward her for—tidying up, using a fork, stifling a tantrum—the more routine that behavior becomes. And, eventually, it just becomes part of who she is.”
- Revisit your resolutions throughout the year as a family by discussing progress and obstacles. It’s important for children to understand that everyone has ups and downs when trying to reach a goal. Setbacks are completely normal and do not necessarily equate to failure. They are not a reason to give up. Just encourage them to take a moment to think about what went wrong, and why. Then get back on track. . If necessary, you can even revise them or set new ones. This process ensures children that creating resolutions wasn’t a waste of time.
I’m willing to bet that families who work together throughout the year finding ways to keep everyone accountable for their goals are much more likely to achieve them. But don’t just take my word for it. Find out for yourselves in 2019!Share: