“The new year is a way to erase any of the bad from last year and focus on all the good — what we can change and make better for this year,” said Tammy Gold, a New Jersey-based parenting coach and the author of the forthcoming book, “Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer.”
“This is a great time to tell the kids, ‘We’re starting fresh. It doesn’t matter what happened before,'” she said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has compiled a list of more than two dozen suggested resolutions for children, broken down by age, and ranging from cleaning up toys to discouraging bullying. Laura McGuinn, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at the University of Oklahoma, co-authored the list, which she describes as “providing a menu of options to parents.”
McGuinn recommends that parents and children keep their resolutions lists short.
“If you make too many, you’re going to fail all of them,” she said. “Focusing your eye on that prize with that short list is a better strategy.”
Gold, who is also a licensed therapist, suggests that parents limit their children to just two resolutions: one that focuses on addressing a problem that stressed them in the old year — for instance, waking up earlier to prevent chronic lateness — and another that encourages character-building, such as pledging to donate one toy per month to charity.
Gold’s other resolution-making tips include:
- Be specific. Instead of resolving to “be nice,” suggest that your children pay one compliment to someone once a week.
- Write them down and post them in a visible place. Help your kids write down their resolutions, and then post them in a common place such as the kitchen refrigerator — so children are constantly reminded of them.
- Help your children follow through. For instance, if your grade-schooler resolves to devote more time to practicing her soccer skills, join her on the field.
- Make following through a family activity. List resolutions for the adults in the family as well as the children — and consider making resolutions that the family can complete together such as volunteer work.
- Give them praise. Praise your children’s efforts to stick to their resolutions and consider rewarding them with a trip to an ice cream shop or some other small treat. Even if their accomplishments fall short of their stated goals, praise and reward them for trying. Say, “I’m proud that you worked hard.”
- Modify when needed. If making good on a resolution proves exceedingly difficult or frustrating, modify your child’s resolution so that it becomes more attainable instead of abandoning his goals altogether.
- It’s OK to skip. If it’s a particularly stressful time for your family, consider skipping resolutions this year. Making resolutions and then putting no effort into keeping them sends a poor message to your children.
For resolution suggestions for children of all ages, check out the American Academy of Pediatrics’ New Year’s Resolutions for Kids.
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