New Year’s Resolutions for Kids — Get them started now!
Posted December 28th, 2016 by Mark S. Guralnick.
Now is a good time to get your children started on making their New Year’s Resolutions. Of course, many of us adults tend to make the same resolutions every year — lose weight, work less, finish that class, clean out that spare room — and we promptly break them by mid-January. But children may treat resolutions more seriously, if the resolutions are well-chosen and if there are some positive rewards at the end.
Getting the kids committed to a few good resolutions may, in fact, strengthen your position as a contender in a child custody case. It reflects a strong commitment to parenting, and it forges a new bond with the child: They make the resolution with the expectation that you will monitor it, and enforce it, and reward them for successful adherence to the resolution.
What are some good resolutions for kids? Of course, the basic resolutions that apply to all children should be considered: (1) Eat more fruit and vegetables; (2) Drink less soda and sweet drinks; (3) Never ride in anybody’s car without wearing a seatbelt; (4) Get more physical exercise; (5) Strive for better grades in school. For children with particular issues, such as overweightedness or poor academic performance, these basic resolutions can be contoured to their specific needs. For example, “Raise my grade in math to at least a “B” before the summer vacation.”
These days, New Year’s resolutions may need to be much more specific based on your children’s behaviors. For example, a younger child with a history of bicycle accidents may want to resolve to wear her helmet every time when bicycling. A child with a history of school fights may wish to promise to reform his ways and look for other ways to deal with confrontations with other children. Teenagers should think about resolutions that limit their computer time, their cell phone usage, their TV time, their video gaming and their overall obsession with technology. “I promise to read more” is a good start. Or, “I resolve to read the entire Harry Potter series of books before the end of the school year.” A teen who has experimented with drugs or alcohol, or who has formed friendships with unsavory characters, should perhaps be prompted to think about more specific resistance-oriented resolutions.
Once a child commits to a resolution, post it somewhere: On the refrigerator door, on her bedroom bulletin board, on a computer program. Begin to track it, and delicately monitor your child’s success. If eating right is the resolution, don’t contribute to your child’s failure by buying junk food. Set some interim goals: Every time your child reaches a certain point (raising a grade; abstaining from soda for 30 days; reading an entire book), reward them in some small way. Set a final goal: When they reach that goal, celebrate in a meaningful way. Perhaps a mini-vacation. Of course, let your children know along the way that reaching their goals and following their resolutions provides their own long-term rewards, such as losing weight, improving academic standing, or reading better. Inspire them to carry forth with their resolutions indefinitely — as a way of life.
Taking these steps in a constructive manner will not only guide your children in a healthy and safer direction, but it will reflect well on your style of parenting and discipline and will ultimately inure to your benefit in any child custody case in Family Court.