New Year’s Day is a great time for families to look over the past year and make resolutions for the new year. Yes, even children can make and keep resolutions!
For younger children, resolution is a big word. They may or may not be able to understand the concept. Explaining that a resolution is like a promise you make to yourself may help them to understand.
What are some promises you would like to make for the upcoming year? Younger children may promise to clean their rooms or to treat their siblings with respect. Older children may resolve to eat less junk food, or watch less TV. Perhaps even to text message less! Here’s a great one: I resolve to not answer the cell phone at the dinner table!
While you are thinking over the past year, now is a great time to point out some good things that your children have done. Also mention things that made you especially proud of them. For example, you could mention to your oldest that when she helped her sister after she tripped and really hurt herself, that it made you very proud of her. It’s a great thing to “catch” your children being good! When you catch them being good, it’s a great thing to mention it to them too.
After you mention the things that are going well, and give specific examples of things that have made you proud, it’s time to go over areas that need improvement. For example, you can mention that everyone needs to resolve to turn off the lights when leaving the room. You may suggest that everyone resolve or promise to help out more with the household chores. Or, you may be concerned with the fact that you are the only one who takes the dog out in the mornings and feeds him at night.
After your family has created a list of resolutions, you may wish to make a chart. Experts say that any new action becomes a habit after 21 days. The goal is to get your children to regularly complete their resolutions. For example, if your teen resolves to take the dog for an afternoon walk after he gets home from school, chart his progress. Each day he completes his resolution, he may earn some sort of reward. After so many days, he can trade in his small rewards for a larger reward like a trip to the mall or a movie at the theatre. For a younger child, a sticker reward will probably suffice. After she’s earned so many stickers, a trip to the Dollar Store would surely be a nice reward!
Make sure that your children know that you’ve made some resolutions for yourself in 2009, and be sure to follow through on your resolutions. Remember, the best way to get your children to learn good habits is to model them yourself!