As parents, it is up to you to set the tone for the year. Although you do not have the power to control things such as the economy, politics, or many other hot topic items, you do have control over your attitudes and a very large influence on the attitudes of your children. So this is the time to reflect a little and set a positive tone for the New Year.
Some of us may make resolutions related to our children and being a better parent. These resolutions may include general ones such as being a better role model, making effort to understand your children more, helping your children to eat healthy and to encourage regular physical activity or maybe even to reward your child for good behaviour and move away from giving attention only to their negative behaviours. Other resolutions may be more related to everyday life and include goals such as checking your child’s homework every night, ensuring that you read to them daily, or even deciding to volunteer in your child’s classroom once a month. These are all great ideas and I would encourage you as parents to make a few resolutions that are related to positive parenting.
Once you’ve decided what your resolutions will be in relation to parenting, it’s time to spend some time with your children to discuss their resolutions. The first thing to keep in mind is their age. Age appropriate goals are extremely important. Goals that are not age appropriate – both mental and chronological age - are less likely to be within reach of your child. Again, you do not want to help your child set goals that are almost impossible for them to obtain, as failure can have its own negative effects. For example, it is not age appropriate to encourage a five year old child to make a resolution to lose weight. At this age the nutrition is the primary responsibility of the parent, so if you feel as though attention needs to be given to your child’s diet, it might be more appropriate to make it one of your resolutions to ensure that there are always healthy snacking options in the house, or that you provide your child with a healthy lunch every day.
Now, let’s begin with pre-schoolers. Three great resolutions that will reinforce behaviours that you would like to be natural might include:
· Brush your teeth twice a day.
· Wash hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
· Clean up toys when you are finished playing with them.
Let’s move on to school age children. Some resolutions may include:
· Completing homework every evening without reminders
· Going to sleep on time
· Drinking more milk and water and reducing the amount of soda intake
· Be nicer to other children in my class
· Be nicer to my siblings
· Keep my room in better condition
· Wear my seat belt every time I go into the car
· Wash my dishes after I have my after-school snack
When helping your child decide on resolutions be sure to make them child-friendly and in the affirmative. For example ,“I will wash my dishes after my afterschool snack.”
Although the examples related to children are transferable to teens, some more specific to teens may include:
· I will take care of my health through physical activity and nutrition.
· I will resist peer pressure to try drugs and alcohol.
· I will wipe negative self-talk out of my vocabulary;e.g. –“ I am so dumb, I can’t do it, etc.”
· I will show respect to my parents, teachers and elders.
As you can see by now, New Year’s Resolutions for your children should be straight forward and attainable. Some of you may want to make it more specific. For example, if your teenager hopes to be able to attend college or university within the next year or so, their resolutions may be closely related to budgeting funds and attaining better grades in order to ensure that they are in line with their overall academic and career goals.
Once you have helped your child decide on one, or two or a few resolutions, be sure to write them down. For young children, you might want to have them draw a picture of each resolution and as the parent, you can write the resolution under each picture. This is an important part of the process, and be sure not to skip it. You may want to decide on a time to evaluate the progress on each resolution. The timeline will be based on your child and their needs. For example, a 4 year old will need constant reminders very early in the process if one of their resolutions is to clean up their toys every evening before bed, whereas a high school student may need monthly or bi-monthly reminders for budget related resolutions which will encourage them to constantly keep track of their finances and in which areas they need to make adjustments.
All the best in 2018!