Guiding Your Child in a New Year’s Resolution

The year 2020 is almost here, and with it, your resolutions for self-improvement! As we reflect on how well our lives went throughout 2019, we know we have room for improvement in many areas. Maybe you have been talking about losing weight, quitting smoking, or saving more money. Everyone makes self-evaluations, and some find the power within to stick to making a change to improve their quality of life for the new year ahead so that it will be better than the last. If you have kids, you probably have them wondering what resolutions are. Youngsters who overhear adults sharing their hopes for making a positive change may want to try to improve themselves too. There is no age restriction on being able to make a resolution, but a great deal of diligence will be required to see one’s desires through.

You can help your children decide on what habit to make their New Year’s resolution. First, share with one another how you both think the past year went for your quality of life. One exercise you can both try is to record major accomplishments that you made this past year. What were skills that you learned? What did you do to fill your time throughout the day? Did these things make you happy? Take time to recount the events that made you proud in 2019. Focusing on the positive aspects of life is great for your esteem and that of your child too. It will be easier to admit where you have room for improvement after you have spent some time thinking about the successes you achieved during the past year.

Once you have revisited the things that made your life great in 2019, it is time to think about what changes you want to make. Even young children can realize that they have areas in which they can improve. Ask your children what they think they need to get better at in the year ahead. Children who are very young may want to focus on aspects of their daily routine. Some may admit that they put up a fight when bedtime arrives; getting to bed on time is one example of a perfect resolution for a child in preschool or in the early elementary grades. Likewise, habits regarding personal hygiene are great resolution ideas too. For instance, your child may want to resolve to brush his or her teeth routinely without being told by you or another caregiver. Older children may feel they need to improve their grades or get better at completing homework assignments on time. Some children may want to learn a new skill like sewing or model building. Others may feel that they want to get better at being nice to other children. If your child knows another who is often left out of group play on the playground, your child can resolve to begin a friendship with this person. No matter what, it is more likely that the resolution will be successful if it is one that has been chosen by your child for himself or herself.

Once your child has some ideas about what may make a good resolution for 2020, have a talk about why he or she feels that would be a good life change to make. Together you can discuss what effects the resolution will bring to your child’s life. These effects may not only benefit the child, but they can benefit you and others as well. Before settling on the resolution, your child should have a plan for approaching the resolution and monitoring his or her progress. This is a good time to have a conversation with your child about resolutions that you or others have made in the past. You can share your life experiences by telling about what worked out and what didn’t and how you learned from trying to stick to the resolution.

While many fail to stick to their New Year’s resolutions, others find that the resolution becomes a part of one’s habits of mind. Let your children know that you will be there to support their journey to make a change. Let them know that it’s okay to slip up and break the resolution, but that they can get right back on the path to their goal immediately. Making a resolution become a part of who a person is takes resilience, drive, and strength. Essentially, it will be up to each individual to follow through with the resolution, but everyone can be encouraged to see it through with the support of others.