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New Year's resolutions for kids

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Helping kids set goals

It's resolution time! What will your resolutions be this year? More connections and fewer calories? A new direction? A different approach? How will you work to make them achievable? And what message will your kids get from your efforts?

Little girl writing listNew Year's resolutions are a curiously adult phenomenon - but not always the best example. How many of us have resolved to "get in shape" in the new year, only to have that effort fizzle out in just a few weeks? Our kids certainly observe this, and it likely makes them think that resolutions aren't really worth it.

The idea behind resolutions, however, are a good message to give to kids. Resolutions are introducing the idea of a fresh start, an effort to better one's self in some way, that it's never too late to try. It's thinking positively and optimistically. Surely those are ideas that kids can get behind, too. To that end, encouraging kids to come up with some (realistic) resolutions of their own can be good for everyone.

Resolutions for kids alone

If you make resolutions, talk to your children (age-appropriately, of course), about why you do so. You can talk about how humans are imperfect and there's always room for improvement. Is there something your child would like to be more conscious about?

Kids' resolutions should be simple and very doable; they should save "achieve world peace" for after college. But in small ways, kids can make and keep individual resolutions.

My older son wants to be a better baseball player, so for him, resolving to practice more - and maybe some resistance exercises to increase overall strength - is a realistic resolution for him. My daughter wants to draw daily, so keeping the colored pencils and paper out so she can do it every day is completely doable. My other son wants to read more, so we can set aside time in each day to read together. These are all things that can be achieved in little bits on a regular basis and add up to a bigger achievement. With a parent's help, they demonstrate commitments and working toward goals.

Resolutions to make together

Sometimes the best resolutions are ones to make together. Whether it's spending a specific amount of special time together each week, or generally working toward a common family goal, if you are working toward a goal together, you may be more likely to get there! "Play a board game" a week can be a great resolution for you and your 7 year old, while, "Keep talking, everyday," can be a resolution for you and your teenager - albeit a touch more challenging.

Help each other along

If you and your child are making resolutions, whether individual or communal, you can encourage each other and be somewhat accountable to one another - and this likely will help both of you in achieving your resolutions. Your child can help remind you why you wanted to get more exercise and you can encourage that keeping the room picked up effort.

Getting back on the bicycle

Even the most well-intentioned of resolution makers falls at times. We're not perfect! If you get off track on your resolution, or your child does, start fresh (again) whether it's January or July. Keep trying, keep making the effort. It's a great way for both of you to demonstrate persistence and resiliency to one another.

Resolutions, when made realistically and carefully, are a great way to set goals and realize achievements in life. Creating resolutions with your child early on can set up healthy resolution-making - and goal-setting! - for a life.

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