Along with the new year comes new hopes, resolutions, and goals. But, New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for adults! Making resolutions with your children can be an exciting time for growth and change, and an opportunity for family bonding. In this quick tip episode, we share practical ways to help your growing kids make achievable goals for the new year.
New Year’s Day is the traditional time to celebrate a new beginning, and kids ages 7-12 are at the ideal stage to learn to make resolutions. According to Dr. Christine Carter, “they’re still young enough that their habits are not firm.” At this age, they’re old enough to think about what a New Year’s resolution is and to make their own. Yet, parents can still help guide them and parents aren’t going to get the same backlash as from a teenager.
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The S.M.A.R.T. Guideline
However appealing an end goal is, it’s easy to get sidetracked, as many of us have experienced. Parents can help kids craft a sustainable plan by following the acronym SMART as a guideline.
The first letter, “S” stands for specific. The resolution should be specific and include your child’s goal, the skill your child is working on, and how your child will achieve it. For example, if their goal is to get better at the piano their resolution would be something like: To become a better piano player by our concert in May, I’ll practice 30 minutes a day. Specific goals will depend on your child’s challenges, abilities, and interests.
The “M” in smart stands for measurable. Your child should track their progress on a chart or have regular check-ins with you.
The “A” in smart stands for Attainable. Their goal should be ambitious but also realistic. You want it to be something that will help your child grow without being overwhelming.
Relevant and Results-Oriented
The “R” in smart stands for Relevant and Results-Oriented. Your child has to want to set and reach this goal, meaning it’s relevant and matters to them. The resolution should explain how your child will know if the goal has been met. For example, it could be: “Studying with a tutor twice a week will help me consistently get A’s in math.”
Lastly, the “T” in smart stands for Time-bound. Your child’s resolution should specify a reasonable time frame and can include mini-goals along the way. Mini-victories can be very motivating.
Building Important Skills
While working on achieving their goals, your children will build important skills. These include self-reflection, self-advocacy, self-awareness, problem-solving, self-control, and self-esteem.
When it comes to helping your child stick with it, there are additional tips we have to help. If your child agrees, consider making a shared goal to work towards together. You’ll make each other accountable. For example, you could say to them, “I’m also looking to exercise more this year. How about we go on a walk together every Saturday morning?”
Parents can be resolution role models. You can help by sharing your own experiences with your child. Be honest about what did and didn’t help you with your previous New Year’s resolutions. You also want to make it a meaningful experience for your child. Let your child work toward the goal and even if they don’t achieve it, you can reflect on their hard work as motivating, not disappointing.