New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be just for adults. They can be a fun tradition for kids, too, to ring in the New Year and celebrate a fresh start.
“It’s an opportunity for kids to think about their strengths, and how they can continue to develop them,” said Dr. Laura Markley, medical director for Akron Children’s Liaison Psychiatry Service. “It’s also a terrific time for parents to model how to set appropriate, achievable goals.”
Kids aged 7 and older are at an ideal age to make New Year’s resolutions. Younger children are still developing their sense of time and will struggle with what it means to plan tasks for every week, every month or even next year.
To help kids keep their resolutions throughout the year, parents should guide their children to set goals that can be more easily measured, as opposed to value judgments.
“Simple, measurable tasks, like making their bed every morning, or turning in homework assignments on time, are more likely to be followed through upon, and can give a child a sense of accomplishment,” said Dr. Markley. “It is more challenging to track or keep resolutions that are vague, like ‘being nicer’ or ‘being more helpful’.”
In addition, be sure to help kids break down broad resolutions into easy, more manageable steps.
For example, if your child wants to set a resolution to keep his room neat and tidy, suggest goals such as, “I will keep my room clean by making my bed every day,” or “I will keep my room clean by putting my shoes in the closet.”
Here, Dr. Markley breaks down some of the top New Year’s resolutions for kids to hopefully yield better results and avoid resolutions falling by the wayside shortly after the ball drops.
1. Instead of a resolution to “eat healthier,” suggest “I will add veggies to my lunch every day,” or “I will drink milk at dinner each night, instead of soda or juice.”
Help your kids find ways to sneak veggies into their everyday favorites. Add vegetables to pizza or quesadillas, or make dips your kids will want to eat, such as creamy avocado dip or roasted garlic and pumpkin hummus dip.
2. Instead of a resolution to “be more active,” suggest “I’m going to try out for the basketball team,” or “I’m going to join a runner’s group.”
You can encourage an active lifestyle for your kids by scheduling family hiking trips or downloading kid-appropriate active apps, such as Sworkit Kids. It’s a free app designed to make moving fun.
3. Instead of “adopting a healthy lifestyle,” suggest “I will schedule a wellness visit and sports physical this year,” or “I will get up to date on my immunizations.”
MyChart makes it easy to manage your children’s health care, so kids can be proactive about their health, including:
- Secure access to medical records 24/7 to view details such as immunization schedules, and medication and allergy information.
- View test results as soon as they become available, request medication renewals and message doctors with non-urgent medical questions.
- Schedule or cancel appointments and view upcoming ones.
What’s more, there’s a MyChart app, MyChart Mobile, which keeps all this information at your fingertips.
4. Instead of “going green,” suggest “I’m going to walk to school,” “I will recycle my homework,” or “I will cut my shower time down by 5 minutes.”
Even small lifestyle changes can make a big impact. Help your children narrow down what being green means to them and how they can translate that into a reasonable goal.
5. Instead of “cutting down on screen time,” suggest “I’m going to put my phone down at family meals,” or “I’m going to read a book after school for 30 minutes instead of watching TV.”
Because devices are engrained in our kids’ everyday life, if you don’t help them quantify how much and when they will reduce screen time, this resolution will quickly wane.
Just as with everything else, it’s important for parents to be role models to help their kids make healthy choices. Also, if you want your children to keep their resolutions, you have to practice what you preach to help motivate and inspire them.
“Children learn from observing their parents,” said Dr. Markley. “So, it’s also important for parents to set measurable goals for themselves and stick to them. Children are more likely to stay engaged in keeping their resolutions when they see their parents achieving their own goals.”