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At the end of each calendar year, people of all ages tend to look back and reflect on the year behind them, as well as look ahead to what the New Year will bring. People everywhere set New Year’s resolutions to improve their lives, better themselves, and have a greater year than any other year before. New Year’s resolutions are often a running joke, as many set unrealistic goals and often give up trying to accomplish their resolution before January is even over. However, we know the importance of reflecting and analyzing the past and using that as a tool to strive for greater things in the future.
Students often get prompted in school to set New Year’s resolutions and write about what they hope to experience in the upcoming year. Rather than let your child scribble out some quick, yet unrealistic, goals for 2019, have a conversation about New Year’s resolutions and aim to come up with some together that are achievable and will help them experience success in a whole new way. Here are some of the best ways that parents can help their kids set New Year’s resolutions for the upcoming year.
Be Role Models in Setting Resolutions
“Do as I say, not as I do” is a popular phrase that makes kids everywhere turn red with anger. Parents cannot expect their kids to do anything that they aren’t willing to do themselves. This goes for setting New Year’s resolutions too, among other things. If you constantly joke that you need to eat healthier, be more active, go to bed earlier, or spend less time on your phone, yet you don’t ever do anything about it, you cannot realistically expect your children to set and achieve their own resolutions. Be a role model this year as you analyze the past year and aim to make positive changes in 2019. Maybe your family can come up with some resolutions that you want to accomplish as a family, and that can be your starting point for encouraging everyone to make resolutions.
Teach Them about SMART Goals
One of the biggest keys to success when it comes to New Year’s resolutions is that the goals are realistic. It’s a popular idea across corporate America to only set “SMART” goals. The letters in SMART all stand for something that the goal must be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Saying something like “I want to eat healthier” isn’t a great goal because it’s not specific, measurable, or time-based. Instead, you should say, “I want to eat at least one fresh, raw food every single day and drink at least 20 ounces of water each day this year.” That is specific, measurable, and time-based, as well as being attainable and relevant to your end goal of being healthier. Help your kids think of their generalized goals, and then help them transform them into SMART goals.
Reflect on the Previous Year
As you’re preparing to come up with resolutions for the upcoming year, it’s helpful to look back on the past year. Do you have unrealized goals from last January? Did you have any big successes or failures? What was the worst part of the past year and can you do anything to avoid that from happening again in the future? Look back on the year and envision the positive changes that you wish to see in the upcoming year. Make those part of your resolutions, but be sure that you’re being realistic in what you aim to do.
Encourage a Variety of Resolutions
It’s easy for adults to come up with the basic and standard resolutions each and every year: eat healthier, be more active, prioritize family more, and so on. But kids and adults alike should vary the resolutions they make. There should be some personal resolutions, but there should also be some academic or work-related ones, as well as maybe some physical or emotional goals. Some people may benefit from having 15 minutes to themselves each day to meditate, pray, journal, or something similar. Some individuals might want to prioritize getting certain grades or spending a certain amount of time studying each week. Others may seek to improve an athletic skill or hone a hobby-related talent. Encourage your students to look at many different areas of their lives as they’re coming up with resolutions so that they are well-rounded and can enjoy a number of experiences and success this upcoming year.
Stay Positive in Your Approach & Advisement
You may have bigger goals in mind for your kids than they have for themselves, and that’s okay. Be certain not to diminish the resolutions they come up with on their own, and try your best to stay positive as you’re helping them think through their ideas. It’s a big deal for your student to talk to you about their resolutions and hopes for the upcoming year, so do your best to come beside them in the process rather than tell them where to go with it. You can make some suggestions of some resolutions or some areas where they might benefit from a resolution, but be sure to stay as positive and supportive as possible in your advisement and your conversations.
Set Baby Goals for the Bigger Resolutions
Younger kids especially tend to think really big when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. That’s not a bad thing, but they may need to be reined in a bit. If they have a huge goal that they want to accomplish by the end of the year, help them break that down into smaller baby goals that they can measure throughout the upcoming months. For example, if they want to become the team captain on their school’s soccer team, talk about action steps that they can take towards that goal. These might be things like practicing every day, talking to the coach about how they can be a better team player, take a course on leadership, and the like.
Help with Accountability & Goal Tracking
Parents always want the best for their kids, and that’s great. But be sure not to nag your children if you see them struggling with or downright ignoring their resolution. Be kind in your approach to hold them accountable, and make sure they know that you’re not bringing it up to be rude but rather because you care about their personal successes. Help them track their goals (they should be measurable, remember?) and celebrate when they achieve something big. Even if the goals don’t have an endpoint, be encouraging and supportive as they stick to their resolutions and increase their self-discipline throughout the year.