As a grownup, you might come into each new year with an almost automated sense of it being the time of year to make new years resolutions and do what you can to improve yourself. But how do you help your children understand New Year’s resolutions and help them make goals or resolutions that are both achievable and lead to a better sense of self-esteem?
And maybe the bigger question is, can New Years resolutions be used to help your children improve their self esteem?
When done properly, the sense of accomplishment that your child will have from accomplishing goals will help build confidence and improve your child’s self-esteem in ways that stick with them. In fact, it can be a great way for your child to learn about self-discipline and setting achievable goals.
To help your kids be successful with making resolutions, consider making it a family tradition. Dr. Weiss, a Florida pediatrician, believes making resolutions a family affair provides a great opportunity for family bonding. And, because our kids learn more from what we do than from what we say, when they see us setting goals to help improve ourselves and make better decisions about our health and happiness, they learn to prioritize themselves in the same way.
Creating Achievable Resolutions
It is crucial to help your children create resolutions they can both stick with easily and achieve. A child may want to make a resolution to read a book a day, but realistically, it won’t always be possible, and he may come away feeling as though he failed. Instead, help him make a resolution to read more or to read 20 minutes five days per week. You can even help your child make a chart to keep track of their progress.
Keep Resolutions Age-Appropriate
Your three-year old and your 15-year old may both want to participate in a family resolution tradition, but the resolutions they make may be quite different. When you are working with younger children on making resolutions, the goals they have should be simple: “I will clean my room myself whenever I can.” “I will brush my teeth when mommy asks me to.”
The most important thing about making New Year’s resolutions isn’t the resolutions themselves; it’s the way you help your child discover healthy ways to focus on taking better care of himself, feel a sense of accomplishment, and gain a sense of self-awareness. Kids should never be teased or ridiculed if they decide the resolution is too difficult; instead, help your child see that resolutions are meant to be flexible, changeable tools for self-improvement, and that it’s ok to adjust those goals as you learn more about yourself. Of course, if you’re going to be forgiving of your child’s attempts at New Year’s resolutions, you need to do the same for yourself, since the behavior you model is the most important teaching tool you have!