New Year’s Resolutions are commonplace for many of us and there’s no reason why the new calendar year ritual can’t be a positive experience for the entire family. Elementary school-aged children are especially good candidates for introducing the concepts of goal-setting and self-improvement. Kids at this stage of life are beginning to establish positive habits, and to understand their benefits. You might consider setting aside some time over the holiday break to help your children make the new years resolution concept a great experience.
Be positive. Remind your children of their accomplishments from the past year and the effort it took to achieve them. Then ask them to think about the things they’d like to achieve in near future. Goals may involve playing a musical instrument, mastering a new skill or sport, or reaching a benchmark in an activity they already do, such as reading books or keeping their room clean. When introduced properly, the concept of resolutions is one of celebrating past successes and looking forward to building on them.
Be practical. Experts encourage parents to let their kids decide on the objectives they want to reach, but encourage your child to come up with a manageable number of realistic and achievable goals. Ongoing measurement of progress can also help your child stay motivated. As with all of us, every “little victory,” helps inspire us to push to the next objective.
Be supportive. Celebrate accomplishments along the way and stay involved in the process. If achieving a specific goal is important to you and your child, it warrants your ongoing attention. If your child is finding it difficult to achieve their goal, have a conversation with them. Try to isolate the problem areas, brainstorm solutions, or recalibrate your objectives. Look for ways to keep your child engaged and encouraged. It’s important for parents to be role models. If you collectively set goals and fail to follow through, you may be teaching an unintended lesson.
Be reward-minded. Especially for children, achievements should be recognized. When your family is setting goals for the new year, set aside some time to decide what an appropriate celebration would be when the resolution is accomplished. A special family vacation, or purchasing a big ticket item that everyone will enjoy, might be good options. Sometimes the added incentive of a great reward can provide the motivation to help achieve a goal.