Making New Year’s Resolutions with your children

Heather from The Children’s Workshop discusses the importance of making New Year’s Resolutions with your kids.

The holiday season is over, and the New Year is here! This is a great time of year to establish some new year’s resolutions with your children, establish new routines, and form new habits for the new year. Children are never too young, they just need the guidance, support, and encouragement from the adults around them.

Making resolutions with your children can be fun and exciting, a time for growth and change, and an opportunity for family bonding. Read these tips on making New Year’s resolutions a positive experience for kids and to help them keep in touch with their goals all year long.

Be a Resolution Role Model:

  • As parents, it’s important to practice what you preach.
  • Practice your own resolutions, hold yourself and your children accountable.
  • No matter what age your child is, he or she is more likely to understand the value of goal setting if you take the lead. Just as with everything else you do, your child is watching.

Take a Positive Approach:

  • Keep in mind that resolutions should always be discussed in a positive way with children: for example, saying “I’m going to do this…” instead of “I’m going to STOP doing this…”
  • Keep the conversation upbeat, enthusiastic, and encouraging.

Resolution Ideas:

  • Instead of: “I’m going to eat healthier.”
    Suggest: “I’m going to drink two glasses of milk each day instead of soda or juice.” Or, “I’m going to eat two pieces of fruit at lunch each day.”
    These are just two examples of healthy resolutions—your child’s should be tailored to his individual needs. So, if you want to eat less fast food, talk about what you are going to eat instead. If you need to eat more veggies, agree on a specific number for the week, and so on.
  • Instead of: “I’m going to exercise more.”
    Suggest: “I’m going to join a soccer team.” Or, “I’m going to go to yoga class with Mom on Saturdays.”
  • Instead of: “We’re going to cut down on screen time.”
    Suggest: “We’re going to read for 30 minutes before bed instead of watching TV.”
    It’s not enough to simply say, “We’re going to reduce screen time.” Quantify how much you and your child will reduce and what you’ll be doing instead.
  • Instead of: “I’m going to help out around the house.”
    Suggest: “I’m going to set the table for dinner every night.” Or, “I’m going to help clean my bedroom once a week.”
    Committing to chores is always smart because it can make kids feel needed and useful. Plus, you’ll get a little help around the house!
  • Instead of: “I’m going to be nicer to people.”
    Suggest: “I’m going to do one random act of kindness a week.” Or, “I’m going to talk to one person at school I’ve never met each week.”
    Similar to #1, a social resolution should also be tailored to your child and the area they would like to improve upon. So, a shy child would likely have a different resolution (like the latter above) than a child who’s working on being nicer to other kids.
  • Instead of: “We’re going to be more eco-friendly.”
    Suggest: “We’re going to start a recycling program at home.” Or, “we’re going to shorten our showers to only five minutes to conserve water.”
  • Instead of: “I’m going to learn something new.”
    Suggest: “I’m going to learn how to make chocolate chip cookies.” Or, “I will learn how to sing.”
    Learning new skills is always an exciting resolution that everyone looks forward to.
  • Instead of: “We’re going to spend more quality time together.”
    Suggest: “We’re going to have game night every Friday.” Or, “we’re going to eat breakfast together on Sunday mornings after church.”
    Commit to spending more family time together having fun (this might be the easiest one to keep!).

Different Resolutions for Different Ages:

  • Resolutions should mirror what your child’s needs and areas for improvement are, as well as what is appropriate for his or her age
  • For preschool-aged children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends resolutions that focus on cleaning up toys, brushing teeth and washing hands and being kind to pets. However, parents who consider these behaviors part of their regular expectations may want to provide resolutions that focus on higher goals.
  • As a child reaches age five and up to age 12, he or she is more able to comprehend a resolution and participate more in the process of picking one. The AAP suggests this age group commit to drinking more milk and water on a daily basis, wearing a seat belt and being friendly to all children. What your child needs to work on is very personal, so work with your child to come up with areas for improvement. Is she having trouble with a certain subject at school that needs more attention? Is he oversleeping and nearly missing the bus most mornings?
  • When your child gets into adolescence, the AAP recommendations focus more on the child taking more responsibility for his actions, including taking care of his body, dealing with stress in a healthy way, talking through conflict, resisting drugs and alcohol and helping others through community service.

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