How to Help Kids Make New Year's Resolutions
Many people look forward to making changes or even improvements at the start of the New Year. After the busyness and relative chaos of the holidays, turning over a new calendar year can feel refreshing and like a chance for renewal. Most people celebrate this chance with the tradition of making resolutions—intentions, decisions, and/or promises to do something different in the New Year.
Whether you are able to keep one or more of your New Year’s resolutions or you forget them altogether by mid-January, the process of creating them is actually good for you. Making resolutions reflects a sense of positivity, optimism, and hopefulness about the future. Therefore, it’s a good idea to help your kids make some New Year’s resolutions as well so the whole family can participate in this tradition.
Making Reasonable Resolutions
Starting a new year tends to inspire everyone to consider life-altering and life-affirming changes. However, these sweeping resolutions are almost always unreasonable in terms of achieving and maintaining success. Therefore, it’s important for parents to model and encourage reasonable goals for themselves and their children in the new year.
For example, rather than resolving to give up chocolate entirely, it’s a far more reasonable goal to forego chocolate on certain days of the week. If your child wants to improve their piano-playing, encourage them to resolve to practice 3-4 times per week rather than every single day. New Year’s resolutions that are reasonable are far more likely to be kept, keeping discouragement at a minimum.
Keep in mind that kids should not be pressured to make New Year’s resolutions if they don’t wish to do so. In addition, parents shouldn’t punish or tease their children if they forget or don’t want to keep the ones they’ve made. Instead, the experience should be positive and rewarding for simply considering and thinking about potential change for the future.
Individual and Family Resolutions
Most people make their own individual New Year’s resolutions. However, young children may find it difficult to come up with ideas or feel overwhelmed at the thought of making big changes. Parents can help their kids make New Year’s resolutions by keeping the following suggestions in mind:
- Limit resolutions to just one or two
- Keep them age-appropriate
- Ensure resolutions are realistic
- Consider short-term, easily achieved goals
- Don’t tie resolutions to good/bad behavior
- Share your own positive resolutions with your children
Your children may want to resolve to do their chores without complaining every day, improve all their grades at school, or achieve a different lofty goal. However well-intentioned, these types of resolutions would be difficult for anyone to keep. Therefore, parents have the opportunity to guide their children toward making more focused, lighthearted, and fun New Year’s resolutions.
Another option is to create a couple of family resolutions for the New Year. This is a great tradition to start because it involves input from the whole family and everyone has the chance to participate. Here are just some ideas for resolutions that a family can make together:
- Increasing physical activity (such as taking more walks or bike rides together)
- Eating healthier meals (cooking more often at home, incorporating more fruits and vegetables)
- Getting more organized (de-cluttering toys, clothing, etc., and donating items to charity)
- Participating in weekly or monthly family outings (visiting local museums, parks, libraries, etc.)
Overall, any family resolutions that involve quality time together are sure to be special and create lasting memories for the year.
Most experts agree that, besides creating reasonable ones, the best way to keep resolutions is to create an action plan to implement them. For example, if you resolve as a family to reduce screen time, your resolution is more likely to succeed if you schedule certain intervals during the week to “block out” the use of digital devices. For example, you can implement a family rule that all screens must be off during dinner time, or by 9:00 p.m. each evening. You can also set aside a “screen-free” afternoon, perhaps from 1:00 to 4:00, every other Saturday or Sunday. Marking “screen-free” time intervals on the family calendar will help everyone remember the resolution plan.
Of course, an action plan to keep a family resolution such as reduced screen time will only work if everyone abides by the rules—especially parents. In addition, the resolution shouldn’t feel like a punishment, but rather an opportunity to do something fun or productive without screens, like playing a family game, making a healthy snack together, or reading as a group.
No matter if you are trying to keep an individual or family resolution, it’s important to be flexible. Resolutions are created with good intentions and thoughtfulness, and there should be no sense of failure if they are broken or forgotten during the new year. It’s very beneficial for kids to set goals and make plans to reach them. Yet, it’s just as essential for them to learn how to adapt when things change, or how to use experience and knowledge they’ve gained to start over again and keep working toward success.
One of the best ways to begin a new calendar year is to start meaningful traditions that allow you and your family to spend time together. Helping your kids make New Year’s resolutions for themselves and the family is an excellent way to pause and reflect on what is important for healthy physical and cognitive growth. At Cognisprings, we support parents looking for educational toys and gifts that encourage family togetherness as well as independent play. That’s why we provide games, toys, books, and puzzles that are thoughtfully designed to enhance children’s critical thinking, creativity, and curiosity. In addition, our products allow families to connect and learn with each other in a fun, screen-free way that develops lasting memories. We wish you the best for 2023!