No matter how you feel about new year’s resolutions, they’re simply a different way to say “goals for next year.” Studies show only eight percent of Americans fulfill resolutions, and 80 percent fail by the month of February!
Getting children accustomed to the idea of setting at least one resolution for themselves for the year can be beneficial. Indeed, it introduces them to goal setting, which will benefit them not only as a student but in everyday life.
In this blog, we’ll talk about four ways to encourage your child to start and complete a new year’s resolution for the coming year.
Set a new year’s resolution for yourself or the family
A child will be hesitant to take part if other family members aren’t setting new year’s resolutions too. To remedy this, model the behaviour by creating a resolution for yourself. If you’re getting resistance, remind your child about things they weren’t able to do last year. This will get them thinking about one or a few goals they want to achieve. If everyone in the family has a goal, you can help to keep each other accountable and complete those goals.
You can set a new year’s resolution as a family too. Some ideas include eating more healthily, not having mobile devices at the dining table or doing a monthly act of service. It can also include having game nights, visiting family, participating in a run together, or going on an annual vacation. Resolutions that are positive and kind motivate everyone regardless of age.
Parents should never set new year’s resolutions for their child; children should come up with their own. Although, you can help to clarify the goal and make suggestions that are more appropriate for their age. A good rule of thumb for any goal is SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
General categories to suggest include personal life, health, friendships, school life, or service. Then ensure the resolution is concrete and realistic for them. For preschoolers, resolutions can revolve around eating, cleaning up, learning letters and numbers, and good hygiene. For school-age kids, eating healthy food, exercising, following safety rules, and balancing game time with an activity like reading are helpful. New year’s resolutions for teens include those for school-age kids but can extend to service, using positive language, saving money, and balancing time on mobile devices. Having a frank and honest conversation with teens can give you insight into what they value in life, too.
Goals around cleanliness and hygiene, sleep and healthy eating habits, academic performance, service, behaviour toward others, and positive activities are good for all ages. This will help frame the exercise as one for self-development. Instead of something material, such as acquiring more things or having a certain toy, game, or device. If the resolution is “I will improve my grades,” have your child clarify how they’ll do that. Perhaps it will involve a half-hour of extra reading each night.
Having too many resolutions can also detract from focus; it’s best to have a maximum of three. Give them positive feedback on their resolutions so they feel like they’ll have fun achieving them and will grow in confidence.
Help them complete big resolutions
It’s helpful to have your child (and everyone in the family) write their resolutions. Leave room after each to include small goals required for completion. This will train them mentally for what they’ll need to do. You may also suggest a time around each goal, if appropriate.
For preschool-aged kids, creating a sticker chart that inches them toward a goal (for example, brushing their teeth every day for a month) can be more motivating.
Following up after a week or month will remind children of the resolution if they haven’t yet made progress toward it. Be a part of their journey if they ask for help.
Avoid the temptation to nag if your child hasn’t yet made progress on their resolution. Be honest and empathetic about how it’s going for you if you’re also having a hard time. If you’ve done this as a family, perhaps you set aside time each month to check on each other’s progress and see how everyone can help.
If a resolution needs to be adjusted or the mini-goals to complete them need to change, be open and flexible. Learning to adapt and pivot when life gets difficult can teach children resilience and help them reframe failure into opportunity.
If you set new year’s resolutions with your family for the new year, we wish you success!