New Year’s is a perfect time to help your children change a behavior or work on a new skill. This can all be achieved in the form of NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!
When dealing with young children, the idea of a New Year’s Resolution can be exciting. But with short attention spans and living in a world of immediate gratification, resolutions can also be a great way to help them understand and set realistic goals that take time and work to be achieved.
- First, set a goal with your child. How do you pick a goal? Think about something you might want them to improve on. Maybe you want them to set the table before dinner, or clear it afterwards. Maybe you want them to complete a 3 step bedtime routine every night. Maybe they want to make more friends. Whatever the goal, make it a specific goal they can reach.
- What would you need to reach these goals? Many children do well with visual cues. A chart they can mark with pictures is a great way to give them the responsibility. For example, if you want your child to set the table every night, make a chart with a picture of each thing they will need - plates, forks, spoons, napkins, glasses, etc. They can check to be sure they have each item. You can also have a picture of where each item should be placed.
- Try not to set them up for failure; think of ways to help them achieve their goal. Will they need a step stool to reach the plates? If your child wants to make new friends, have a goal of inviting someone over twice a month for playdates. Mark a calendar when friends come over to be sure you are reaching your goal.
- Check in with your child and encourage them to reach their goals. If you notice your child has not had any friends over yet, remind her that you are going to the park this weekend and encourage them to invite a friend. Or, have them help pick out new napkins for the dinner table so that they feel they are part of the decision making process, and will take more pride in their work.
- Remember not to nag your children. Encourage them, and if they do not reach their goals, talk them through it. What could you have done differently? Maybe offer to join your child, get different supplies, or find a better way to document your progress. Try reviewing what went wrong and decide how to improve next time. But always give accolades for a job well done and encourage your child to keep trying even when things do not go as planned. This is how we learn, and you can share your own experiences as well to encourage your kids to work through successes and failures. For example, say to them, “When I set a goal of reading 3 books a month, I soon realized I did not have time for it, so I now try to read 2 books a month and I make sure there is no more than 200 pages in each book. “
Most of all, have fun! And have a Happy New Year!