New Year’s resolutions can teach children positive ways in which they can alter their behavior. Plus, when you make resolutions as a family, you can build an even stronger bond with your children when improving your entire household
I’ve seen firsthand how my habits affect my children’s habits. The more screen time that I give myself, the more screen time my children get. When I go outside less, so do my children. Because parenting includes so much leading by example, setting New Year’s resolutions with your children will help both of you grow.
Plus, it’s fun to see your children start to grow into little adults as they learn to comprehend more aspects of life, such as New Year’s resolutions. A new year is a great opportunity to start reinforcing healthy behaviors and saying goodbye to unhealthy behaviors.
As you make your resolutions, be sure to make them measurable. For example, instead of saying you’ll eat healthier, state-specific fruit and vegetable goals for each day. Plus, be sure they’re reasonable. So if your child currently only has one fruit or vegetable they like and eat, don’t say you’ll get in four each day. Start with two to be sure it’s an attainable goal for your child.
Here’s a list of New Year’s resolutions your children can make.
1. Eat more fruits and veggies
A healthier diet starts with eating good foods. The more good foods you eat, the less likely you’ll be to lean on unhealthy snacks. If you tell children to just stop eating chips, they might be at a loss for what to eat for a snack instead.
So use positive language and instead of removing something from their diet, integrate something into their diet. You can worry about restricting unhealthy snacks later once you have healthy habits.
Part of this resolution falls on parents though. You must be willing to purchase more fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, pack them in school lunches, and lead by example. Reach for fruits and vegetables when you are hungry too to show children that this is a good practice for everyone. And remember to make it measurable. Add in just one fruit or veggie to your child’s school lunch or after-school snack to start. This way they don’t miss their normal routine entirely and there is still some familiarity for them. Plus, now it’s measurable instead of just eating more fruits and veggies in general.
2. Play outside more
Set an attainable number for how long you’d like your child to play outside. If you can, get the other neighborhood kids involved so that your child has someone to play with while spending more time outdoors.
When you involve others within your child’s peer group, you make the resolution more attainable. Your goal is that all the resolutions that you make with your children are attainable. If they aren’t attainable, you might turn your child off from making resolutions in the future.
If you can’t find any of your child’s friends to get in on the resolution with them, be sure to join your child outside for the full duration of your goals. Start new outdoor activities and teach your children new outdoor games.
3. Reduce screen time
Estimate how long your child spends with screens each day in total. This includes TVs, handheld devices, and video games. Cut that number back by 30 minutes and replace the activity with something better for them. This resolution goes hand in hand with going outside more, reading more, or learning a new skill, such as a musical instrument. Do your best to replace the screen time with something fun that you already know your child enjoys. This will make it easier to keep the resolution. And remember, that you model through example. Try to avoid picking up your smartphone while playing with your child, while at the dinner table, or when you’re enjoying time outside.
4. Do chores without being asked
At times, it feels like all we do as parents is remind children of their chores. Don’t forget to make your bed. It’s time to empty the dishwasher. Did you feed the dog yet? Encourage children to get into a routine of their daily chores without you having to ask them. The easiest way to set this resolution and to achieve it is to choose activities that you ask your child to do every day. Activities that don’t occur every day are naturally more difficult to remember because it’s harder to get into a routine with them.
Teach children how to build their routines. In the morning, teach them to get dressed, fold their pajamas or put them in the dirty clothes hamper, brush their teeth, and make their beds all before joining you at the breakfast table.
If you’re looking for an after-school routine, teach your children to grab a snack, sit down and complete their homework, and unpack their lunchbox and backpack to prepare for the next day of school.
5. Spend more quality family time
This new year resolved to spend more time together as a family. A tangible way to do this is to set aside one night per week as a family night. Pick a game and play it on family night or go to a community event together once a month.
If your children are heavily involved in after-school activities, pick a night where you all play on the soccer field together after one of the games. Or ensure that you are home for one night per week together at the dinner table. Just make sure that whatever you choose to do is something that you can check in on regularly to see how you’re doing. That’s one reason to make it a set evening or once-per-week activity.
Doing New Year’s resolutions as a family will teach your child that they can always grow and improve. A growth mindset is important. When you lead by example, your children will see that they aren’t the only ones. They will understand that everyone has room for improvement. And you’ll bond with your children in a special way when you complete growth activities together.