New Year's Resolutions

Behavior & Development • Dec 27, 2022

New Year’s Resolutions: Helping Your Kids Set Goals

The New Year can be an exciting time full of opportunities for new beginnings and growth. The advent of each new year comes with a myriad of opportunities to introduce to children the practice of setting goals for the upcoming year. As your kids grow to become more mindful, family traditions of incorporating New Year’s resolutions can foster in your kids the practice of setting achievable goals. New Year’s resolutions provide the bonus of turning these goals into a bonding activity and developing good habits as a family.

Here are some tips on how you can help your kids make New Year’s resolutions and tangible goals that can stick with them all year long-

Having realistic goals

Try to keep expectations realistic and introduce simple ideas for creating changes. Instead of using stronger terms such as ‘resolutions’, use simpler terms such as goals or habits. Avoid creating long lists of “improvements” that can overwhelm the kids. Instead, start with one or two simple ideas.

Make it a family activity

It always helps to lead by example. When parents participate in changes, kids are encouraged to do the same. Start by gathering as a family to involve kids in creating a list of proposed goals.

Ask the kids for suggestions

Children do best in situations where they feel responsible and are included in decision-making. Instead of the parent deciding which outdoor activities to do over the weekends, ask the kids for suggestions and pick one from that list if it is practical. Choose from the board games your child suggests for the weekend family activity.

Age-appropriate resolutions

While decisions about cooking healthy meals for the family and purchasing more produce for meals and snacks can be made by parents on behalf of the entire family, it is practical to list age-appropriate goals for each kid. Keep the activities comparable for all kids. While you can set goals for your 5-year-old to pick up his toys at the end of each day, you can set a corresponding goal for your 12-year-old to put away her clothes inside the closet before bedtime.

Ideas for younger school-aged children

These goals can include simple health and safety measures for everyday life. Some options are limiting soda intake and drinking more water, reading books regularly, or visiting the county library once a month. Other possible goals could be wearing a helmet every time while riding a bike, or not using electronic devices after a certain time close to bedtime. Be specific and realistic while setting goals so that they are attainable.

Ideas for teenagers

Always discuss with your teenagers what they want to work on and help them modify their goals for the best outcome. Simple goals can include getting at least eight hours of sleep every night, always using the seat belt while driving, or putting the phone in the glove compartment in the car to prevent looking at the phone while driving.

Incorporate gratitude and service activities

Kids learn kindness by watching the intentions and actions of parents. Whether it can be a weekly activity or a monthly routine, make time to volunteer in the local community. Incorporate at least one of these activities as a family goal.

Positive reinforcement

Whether the accomplishments of resolutions and goals are rewarded individually, or as a family, children thrive on recognition and appreciation when they accomplish their set goals and constructive encouragement if they fail to reach goals. Always be ready to adapt and pivot when outside factors impede their goals. It will also help build patience and resilience. Turn disappointments into opportunities for discussion and revisit new ideas for resolutions.

Begin a tradition of creating practical New Year’s resolutions with your kids. It can create a healthy outcome, both physically and emotionally, for your entire family.