Should Kids Set New Year's Resolutions?

. December 28, 2015.

Resolutions for 2016 are not limited by a person’s age. “Kids younger than 8 may not fully understand the idea, said Dr. Sara Laule, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan Health System. but for kids a little older, learning to set goals can be a really good skill to have.” When the goals are reasonable, it works out even better.  You want your child to feel like he or she is in charge.  “Parents can talk about resolutions and help their kids set goals,” said Laule. “But the kids should set the goals themselves, not have them dictated to them.” If you choose a goal for your child, chances are they are less likely to follow through.

Be a role model

“The family may sit around the dinner table and make goals together . Everyone says what they want, writes them down on paper and can look back on it,” said Laule. Be specific. “Instead of saying you are going to eat healthier, say that you will eat one fruit or vegetable with every meal,” said Laule. You want to be sure you can fairly assess whether you are reaching your goal or not and let your child know the result matters. “You cannot expect your child to be eating fruits and vegetables at every meal if you are not doing that,” said Laule.

Lifestyle-related goals are great

“You can set a goal of at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3 times a week and find something you enjoy,” said Laule. “Whether it is swimming or gymnastics, rather than just saying you are going to be more active.”

Academics are another good area to focus on. “Kids talk about wanting to stay more organized with school, so a specific goal would be that once you finish your homework that you put it in a folder so you do not leave it on the table when you go to school the next day,” said Laule. Create a visual tool to measure progress. You may want to use a sticker chart to monitor your child’s progress toward achieving the resolution. “Families should not bribe the kid but you can have something that tracks how well he is doing as a good motivator,” said Laule. It is great to achieve resolutions. “The child should find fulfillment in choosing something he really wants,” said Laule.

Don’t nag, but instead ask your child periodically how he thinks the resolution is going. “Make it a tradition that is fun so you can measure how much you have done during the year,” said Laule.