Even kids can ring in the New Year by setting some achievable goals for the months ahead, with a little help from the adults in their lives. Those over the age of 7 are forming habits and beginning to make long-term goals for themselves, making this a prime time to teach them the value of setting goals and sticking to them. Here are some ways you can help your children set New Year’s resolutions that will stick:
- Lead by example. Children are very observant and constantly learning by watching what you do. If they see you set goals and then fail to follow through, they will think that it’s okay to not follow through. Show your children the power of setting a goal and achieving it. Talk about your goal and the steps you’re taking to get there. Celebrate milestones along the way. It will help keep you on track and accountable and show your kids how to make a resolution the right way.
- Stay positive. Don’t make resolutions feel like a punishment or measure your child’s shortcomings. Focus on making everyone healthier and happier as a family. Talk to your child about how practice is the best way to get good at something and ask what they want to really achieve during the next year. Maybe they want to learn how to play the piano or read above their grade level. When your child makes strides towards achieving these goals, celebrate with them.
- Create an achievable list. It’s great to have lots of areas where we want to improve, but you want a list of resolutions that are attainable. Sit down with your child, write down a list of possible resolutions and then narrow it down by discussing which are the most important. Then the task of achieving resolutions doesn’t become daunting and frustrating.
- Break each resolution down into manageable steps. Set a realistic path for achieving each resolution. Making a sticker chart is a great way to measure goals and break them down into small steps. For instance, if your child wants to read above his or her grade level, a good way to get to that goal is by reading 20 extra minutes daily. Making a sticker chart or marking a calendar for every day your child reads is a visual reminder that he or she is making progress toward improved reading skills.
- Follow up in a positive way. Nobody wants to be nagged about not making their goals. Sit down with your child and measure his or her progress. If something isn’t working, troubleshoot it. There is more than one way to get to the end goal. Make sure your child knows it’s ok to stumble, just pick yourself up and find the way that works. Not everything is going to work for everyone, so make a game plan about how you can improve. If your child’s goal was to get 20 minutes of extra outdoor play each day, but that wasn’t working out because of homework, figure out a new schedule or fit in an extra hour of play each day on the weekends.
New Year’s resolutions are about making gradual improvements, not making lofty goals that ultimately fail and beating yourself up. Communicate this to your children all along the way. This is an exercise in learning to be happier and healthier. Making resolutions together can be a great bonding experience and teach your child goal-setting skills that can last a lifetime.