Despite common misconceptions, New Year’s resolutions are a lot of fun to make. You can help your kids make interesting and exciting resolutions, and stick to them, by taking the right approach this year. Avoid the traps that make resolutions a negative thing in adult life and give your kids a head start on looking at each new year as if it’s a beautiful rainbow sparkling unicorn of possibility.
1. Year in review
Before you jump into picking apart where things are lacking in life, take a look back at the year and make a list of everything that was awesome. Have your kids highlight what they did that made them feel successful or proud of their work. It will help them identify what is really important to them in life, instead of parroting what they think their resolutions should be, and then they will be able to plan resolutions that will having meaning. Because the only resolutions anyone actually keeps are the ones that have intrinsic value, as evidenced by every resolution you abandoned in your life by January 10th.
2. Accentuate the positive
Instead of starting each resolution with “don’t” or “stop” or “no” , which is coming from a place of negativity, replace them with “do”, “try”, and “aim”. Try to steer your kids toward goals that will create memories like the ones they cherish from this past year. The feeling they had when they finally made it across the ice rink without holding your hand or how it felt when they invited the new kids at school to sit with them at lunch, this is a great jumping off point for new resolutions. Trying new things, helping others, and creating new healthy habits are all positive ways to make New Year’s resolutions.
3. Pick partners
Going it alone stinks and you know it. Let the kids pair up or plan resolutions as a family instead of leaving it up to each person to tackle these new goals in solitude. Look for printable goal setting plans online and fill them out together, because you know when you write something down it haunts you and mocks you when it sit ignored rather than the fleeting ideas in your head that no one can hold you to, then put them in a binder where you can check in on your progress throughout the year. Add comment cards that each person can fill out and give to someone in the family when they seem like they need a little kick in the right direction or just a bit of encouragement – positive comments only.
4. Break it Up
While you’re at it with all of this planning and organization, go ahead and have the kids break up their New Year’s resolutions into smaller bite sized chunks that they can conquer each month. Sometimes a resolution ends up feeling too formidable and kids (and adults, be real here) end up abandoning it altogether. Instead, talk through the steps it will take to achieve their goals and help them come up with incremental actions that give them a clear view of the finish line. Because as they say, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.**
5. Be flexible and forgiving
Let your kids know that New Year’s resolutions are an investment in themselves and there is no expectation attached to the outcome. You don’t want your kids scared of “failing” and collapsing under the pressure. Life is hard enough these days for our kids, no need to add to the pile. This is one of those times where you absolutely have to walk-the-walk and not just talk-the-talk. Modeling flexibility and forgiveness when it comes to your own resolutions is important in preventing the perfectionism and self loathing that gets passed down from generation to generation, or, you know, is just a nice way to treat yourself and others.
**Disclaimer: Please do not eat elephants, they are an endangered species.