There is something about the New Year that always gets everyone inspired and motivated. And it’s not just parents or adults who can benefit from this burst of energy. Even children can make New Year’s resolutions for themselves. It’s a great activity to do together as a family.
There are many good resolutions we can suggest for children of all ages, but the best ones are those that come from kids themselves. It’s not difficult to tweak the resolutions in a doable way while maintaining their appeal to children.
You can also add one that can either teach a new skill or improve one that the child already has.
1) Pack away toys after playing. It’s never too early to teach children to be independent and responsible for their actions.
2) Know when to say “I’m Sorry,” “Please,” “Thank You,” “Yes, please,” “No, thank you.” These are the foundations of respectful and proper communication that will serve them well as they grow.
3) Do not grab toys from other children. This is perhaps the simplest way to remind them to “walk the talk” and show respect to others through their actions.
For school-age kids
For school-age kids, a good trick is to choose resolutions that are time-bound. It also helps to work with what they are interested in—which, for this generation, seems to always be something related to being online.
1) Read one new book per month. Despite the prevalence of information, especially online, there is a lot of knowledge to be gained from sitting down and quietly concentrating on a page of words, with no flashing links to click on or pop-ups to be distracted by. The cognitive stimulation, along with other benefits such as improved concentration, imagination, writing skills, vocabulary, and even empathy and mental health, make this resolution the gift that keeps on giving.
2) Eat healthier. Even if children avoid or neglect vegetables and water, they can be taught to understand the value of eating healthy. One can always hope that a foundation for a healthy lifestyle be set.
3) Don’t talk to strangers online. A friend sent a link to an article about a 37-year-old mother who pretended to be an 11-year-old girl online and it left me shaken. It is a good wake-up call to the reality of sexual predators on the internet and emphasizes the importance of teaching children to protect themselves from these monsters.
Teenage resolutions may be trickier because you need a healthy sense of communication with your teenage son or daughter. But it doesn’t mean you can’t try or use the resolution to create opportunities for better communication and building stronger bonds. It may also serve as a way to instill healthy mental attitudes and practices to help them make wise decisions.
1) Engage regularly in a positive and constructive activity, such as volunteering and joining organizations that help others. Cliché as it may sound, you always receive more than you actually give. Research shows that helping others gives a sense of positivity, purpose and gratitude, as well as creates activity in the brain that helps keep it healthy and insulates it from destructive activity.
2) Treat oneself and others with kindness and gentleness, even under the temptation of anonymity. There are too many trolls online, so here’s hoping that the youth can be a generation of positive and encouraging angels online.
3. Talk to a responsible adult if a friend starts showing harmful behavior or suicidal tendencies. There have been too many instances when friends didn’t quite know what to do with the information they had and mistook silence for loyalty, until it was too late. Reminding children on the importance of speaking up may save a life, and spare them from a lifetime of carrying the burden of guilt.
For the family
Resolutions don’t have to be an individual project. Family resolutions and helping each other stay on track can make even the most challenging goals a walk in the park.
Knowing that you are not alone creates a support system that encourages you to stay committed and forces you to be accountable not just to yourself but to one another.
1) No gadgets at the dining table, whether at home or in a restaurant. Enjoy each other’s company and the food, rather than take photos for others or to keep up with the life of someone, who is nowhere nearly as important as the people you’re with at that moment.
2) Set aside a weekly family bonding night. You don’t have to go far or spend a lot to create memories. I’m biased because I love board games, so my first go-to activity is always game night. But there are many other options, such as karaoke (YouTube has lots of karaoke-ready videos!), cooking, watching a movie, or going for a hike.
3) Create a family prayer tradition or schedule. When Adriana was in first grade, she casually asked me if “Mama Mary could visit us.” I said yes. Little did I know that she meant to volunteer our family to receive a traveling Mother Mary for three days, every month, for a year.
Five years later, we are still in the roster of families who receive this beautiful opportunity to gather round our Lady and enjoy the peace and joy she brings to our home.