New Year’s Resolutions with Young Children
The start of a new year is a time for reflection, change, and growth. Last year, our family established a tradition of making resolutions, both as a family and individually. We even encourage our 3-year old daughter to set goals for herself in the coming year. Because of the abstract nature of goal setting, I put together a resolution planning worksheet to help her reflect on the year, and use forward thinking.
When making resolutions as a family, keep these guidelines in mind:
Be reflective. Successful goal setting involves a practice of reflection. Looking back at what we’ve accomplished thus far can help us gain perspective on our strengths and where we need to go.
Goals should be realistic and attainable. The last message that we want to send to our children is that they are unable to reach a goal. Children change and grow so quickly, so reaching an attainable goal should be both realistic and quick. When setting longer-term goals, take small steps and follow up in a supportive, encouraging way.
Be specific: Guide children towards naming specific goals.
- Instead of: “We are going to cut down screen time” try “I will read books before bed instead of having television time”
- Instead of: “I will help around the house” try “I will help pick up my toys every day”
- Instead of: “I will learn something new” try “I will learn to write my name”
Improve on things you’re already doing. In goal setting, in order to avoid sending a message of deficiency, it’s important to point out all of the great things you’re already doing, and look to improve on them.
Set out to learn new things. Children are picking up new things left and right — talk out a milestone that is just on the horizon or a big accomplishment that is likely to follow. Work with a child’s interests and what they’re already bringing to the table for ensured success.
Make some of your goals academic. A good family goal to set is to help your little one improve their school-readiness skills. Goals like holding a pencil, cutting with scissors, or getting some of the numbers or letters down are perfect for future preschoolers, while older children would benefit from setting curricular goals 30 like reading for 30 minutes a day, or practicing specific math skills.
Consider health and exercise. File this one under a family goal: there are all kinds of fun exercises that families can do together! Take an evening walk together, get out your yoga mats, or engage in a friendly sports game at the park. Additionally, sharing and talking openly about healthy eating habits, and putting them in place, is a great family practice for overall well-being.
Give, give, give. Put charitable giving on your list: do good *and* teach your child the value of sharing all in one fell swoop.
Have fun. Set goals around play: visit a museum once a month, get outside and to the park more, or master building a block tower! Play makes a huge impact on children’s academic development, and the quality time spent together will be good for all.
Be resolution a role model. Keep a positive approach towards resolutions, and follow through on your own.