Making resolutions with your children can be fun and exciting, a time for growth and change, and an opportunity for family bonding. Read our tips on how to make New Year’s resolutions a positive experience for kids and to help them keep in touch with their goals all year long.
Jennifer Kolari, a parent and child therapist and author of Connected Parenting, says, “They’re beginning to be mindful and to understand others’ perspectives. They’re doing more independently, and they’re starting to open up to broader goals of how to become their best selves.”
- Be Resolution Role Models
As parents, it is important to practice what you preach. “Do you believe in, make, and keep resolutions?” asks Robin Goodman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and art therapist who has written books on children and stress. “You have to walk the walk and talk the talk to be most effective.”
Bring your own resolutions to the kitchen table. “This is a great thing to do as a whole family,” Kolari says. “That is how we do it with our three children. Kids look to you to learn how to approach this task.
- Keep a Positive Approach to Resolutions
Start by going over the positive things your kids accomplished last year. “Instead of pointing out shortcomings, be the historian of their previous successes,” Dr. Carter says. “Point to the bright spot where they are doing something well.”
Have them think of things they can do now that they couldn’t do last year. Say your 10-year-old taught himself to play a difficult song on the piano. Did that success come about because he pushed himself a little harder? Remind him how far that little bit of extra effort took him. Ask your child, “How can you transfer your success on the piano to something else?”
You have set the stage. Next, look ahead and ask, “What are some of the great things you want to do this year? What do you want to improve? What will make your life better and happier?”
- Suggest—Don’t Dictate—Resolutions
The big question parents have at this point: Should you make resolutions for your child? Most experts say no. You can guide and suggest general categories for change, help your child clarify goals, and make sure they are age-appropriate, but kids should come up with resolutions themselves. This is how they take ownership of their goals and learn to plan.
The first step is to listen, Kolari says. “Ask them what they want for themselves. If it is your agenda that is driving the conversation, you are not listening.”
Still, most kids need a little guidance. Come up with three or four broad categories—such as personal goals, friendship goals, helping goals, and school goals—and let them fill in the specifics. Cox, who also teaches workshops on family traditions, suggests parents ask, “Are there things that you could do better or differently? For instance, how should you take care of yourself or treat other people?” If they draw a blank, you could offer some examples, such as being nicer to siblings, sharing better with friends, or helping more at home.
Your kids might also include what Kolari calls “material goals,” such as collecting Hatchimals or Fingerlings. “Don’t say, ‘That is not a good goal,'” she says. Be open to what is important to them. “It is a great way to have a meaningful conversation with your kids and see what they are thinking.”
- Narrow Down the Resolutions List
The important thing is not to end up with too many resolutions.”Honestly, two or three are reasonable,” Kolari says.
“We don’t want to teach our kids about making a huge list of resolutions and not following through,” Dr. Carter says. “So help your child narrow them down to a couple of things to focus on.”
Take a fresh sheet of paper and have your children write down their top three resolutions, leaving a large space between each one for inserting smaller steps. Help your children make them realistic and age-appropriate.
- Follow Up but Don’t Nag About Resolutions
Check in periodically with kids on how they are doing. “Don’t worry about lapses. Expect them. A lapse is forgetting for a day or two, or having a week in which a turtle step didn’t work. Or maybe you went on vacation and couldn’t practice. That’s not failure; that’s just trying. No big change is ever accomplished perfectly,” Dr. Carter says.
“Try not to be a big nag about this,” Kolari says. If your child isn’t making progress on a resolution, “first affirm how hard it is: It seemed like a great idea, but it’s not easy to stick to. Ask, ‘What’s getting in the way for you?’ Help them get excited about it again.” To avoid parental nagging, she advises framing the resolutions on a wall as a reminder.
Source : www.parents.com