It’s that time of year again: time to make your New Year’s Resolutions. But what about your child? If you have a school age child or an adolescent, I bet they have a few resolutions they would like to commit to in the New Year.
Here are 5 easy steps to get you and your child goal setting by developing your New Year’s Resolutions. Have fun!
Don’t say no to anything just yet. Helping your child to come up with ideas is good cognitive development. So she wants to play basketball like Michael Jordan? Fantastic! Or she wants to read 100 books in a month’s time? Wonderful! Even if the goals aren’t realistic, encouraging the formation of ideas boosts self-esteem. There’s nothing wrong with reaching for the stars when your child is developing her New Year’s Resolutions! After she’s done coming up with all her ideas, you can help guide her to a more realistic goal.
2. Start small, like little chunks
It’s true that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Help your child to break it down in small attainable pieces to help avoid frustration. Maybe your child wants to master the guitar. What could be some initial small steps? Perhaps researching guitar stores or guitar teachers? Looking up easy-to-play guitar melodies? You get the idea.
3. Stay positive
New Year’s Resolutions are most successful when they are stated in a positive manner. Goals with words like increase, improve, add, more, encourages your kid to strive for something, instead of stopping something. And you’ve probably experienced that it is much harder to stop your child from doing something than to encourage your child to do something.
For example: Your child wants to finish her homework by 8pm every night so she can watch her favorite show before bed. Excellent goal! Now wou want to break it down into small positive steps to help her achieve the goal.
A not-so-helpful way to state it would be: Stop getting distracted by texting all afternoon.
Sure we know that’s the truth, but how likely is it to get your kid to stop texting for the whole afternoon? I don’t know about your child, but I’m guessing that’s not going to be easy for her to follow thru on.
Try wording it like this: Increase focus on homework for 30 minutes at a time before taking a break.
Why is that wording more powerful? It gives your child direction about what to do, without telling her what not to do. This way your child is less reactive. It gives her something to accomplish (and she can text on her break!).
4. Think about goals for yourself that could help your child.
Parenting is all about guiding your child and thinking about the steps YOU can take can to help support your New Year’s Resolutions. Need some examples?
Carve out an extra 15 minutes for quality together-time.
Encourage more talk more about everyone’s day at the dinner table.
Increase praise when you see your child make a positive choice.
(Note these goals were all small and positive).
5. Follow up with supportive statements
If you notice the New Year’s Resolution is going by the wayside, your child probably also has noticed too, so there’s no need to nag. Your child doesn’t need reminding that things aren’t working out the way she wants it to.
Go back to this list and think about what it is that’s creating the obstacle. Is the goal too overwhelming? Help your child break it into smaller steps.
Your child needs a cheerleader more than a critic. Brainstorm the ways you can help your child and you are more likely to see her dreams turn into reality.
Bottom line: New Year’s Resolutions are an excellent opportunity to challenge your child to think ahead, plan some goals, and even problem solve. This is an excellent teaching activity that both you and your child can enjoy.
Please comment below: What are your child’s New Year’s Resolutions? What strategies have you tried to help your child achieve his/her goal?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health.