Family Resolutions for a Happy New Year

We’ve written before about goal setting and January is the perfect time to revisit this topic. It’s a great time to make New Year’s Resolutions! These resolutions are goals that we set for ourselves.  But we must also help our children set reasonable goals and achieve success. :

Set resolutions as a family and make it a part of a holiday event. On January 1st, gather at the table for a New Year’s meal, whether it’s a special breakfast or a dinner, make it an event and bring with you your own personal resolutions. Tell your children what your goals are and why, and then ask them what they might like to shoot for in the new year. After all, it’s a fresh start, a new beginning, and the perfect time to focus on picking a healthy new habit. Should you as a parent pick the goal for them? No. The way to success is to let your children pick their own goal, but you can certainly guide them in their choice.

That said, it’s important that you are a good resolution role-model. Let them see you working on your own goal. You can’t lead them to resolution success if you’re not willing to stick with your own goal.

Make sure to keep the process positive! Don’t make suggestion in a negative or preachy way. Focus on success and ask them “What do you want to improve on this year? What can make your life healthier, happier, better? Are there things you can do to help other people?” Now listen, really listen to what they say. Don’t lead them to make a decision that you want them to make. Listen and hear what they are saying. It’s important that your children choose the resolution themselves in order to have real ownership over the project. It’s a great lesson in goal-setting and helps them to learn to plan as well. Your task is to help them narrow down their ideas, to make sure that it’s age-appropriate, to guide them.

The next step is to help your children to select just one or two goals. There’s a much higher chance of success if they focus on just a few projects rather than being overwhelmed by too many areas of focus. Once one or two are chosen, get out a fresh sheet of paper and write down each goal in specific terms, nothing too general.  Then underneath each, write out concrete steps or ideas to make the resolution work. Breaking down the process into steps will make the resolution more achievable.
Finally, let your children decorate their goal sheet and hang it on the fridge or on a common bulletin board where they can see it every day. Make sure your resolutions are on the fridge as well. Remember, you are a role model!
As a family, revisit the resolutions from time to time. Help everyone to stay excited about their new year’s goal. If progress is slow, don't worry, encourage forward movement. Talk about what might be getting in the way, or maybe look at making smaller tasks to achieve the final goal.

Another suggestion is to make a family goal. Consider doing acts of kindness together. Performing acts of kindness makes the doer a happier person and what a great way to experience positive family bonding and memories! Once a week or once a month, whatever works best for your family schedule, think of the groups or people in your life and pick one to focus on. What can you as a family  do to help this group or person? Consider picking up trash at your neighborhood park, going through closets and donating unused toys or outgrown clothes to a shelter, or baking cookies for an elderly neighbor and then paying a short visit? While there, why not ask if you can rake leaves, weed the garden, or complete another task the person may not be able to do for himself?
Make this a new family ritual: have a family talk, let everyone decide on their goal for the new year and then celebrate with your special New Year’s meal. It’s a perfect family bonding exercise, a great way to kick off 2017, an easy self-improvement exercise, and an excellent way to create special family memories.