New Year’s resolutions can serve as great motivators for helping our children (and ourselves) make lasting behavior changes. The simple act of writing down an idea and committing to self-improvement makes us likelier to follow through.
It’s never too soon to involve your children in creating New Year’s resolutions. Even young children can come up with ideas for skills they would like to work on, or promises they think would be good to make. Older children should be encouraged to think more broadly, including goals that have a positive impact on someone or something outside of themselves. Families can also create family-wide goals to work toward together.
Some parents include resolution crafting as a standard part of their New Year’s day routine. If your family would like to join this tradition, set aside a block of time at the start of the new year for a family meeting. Make it fun by eating a special meal or having a game night when you are finished writing down your resolutions. Help your children get started thinking about areas for growth, but also give them space to think up things on their own.
Here are some tips to get you started:
If someone in your family has recently made a positive behavior change, encourage them to resolve to continue that behavior. For instance, “I resolve to continue exercising daily.” Or, “I promise to keep getting ready for school without being asked.”
Avoid coercing your children into making changes they might not be developmentally ready for. Instead of, “I promise to always use the potty,” help your child create a promise they can accomplish. For example, “I promise to use the potty as much as I can.”
Write down categories or themes to help family members reflect on multiple areas of their lives. Such categories might include: school goals, professional goals, health, fitness, family harmony, volunteer work, money and self-care.
Brainstorm with your family about group goals. Would you like to volunteer together? Have a regular family game night? Have parent-child date nights? Work on household tidiness? Resolve to address those things together!
Model resolution-setting for your children. Choose goals that are attainable. Talk about how you will get started and what the next steps might be.
Write everyone’s goals down and post them where you all can see them.
Map your progress together. At each change of season, mark a date on your calendar to review your goals together. Give each other praise and encouragement for the things you have accomplished. Help each other discern next steps in areas where progress is needed and offer support to family members who are feeling stuck. Allow yourselves to replace goals that were too lofty with something attainable.
- Keep a list of your goals from year to year. They can be a great reminder of how far you have come. They can also help inspire your next set of resolutions.
Originally published in December 2017