The start of a new year offers a clean slate and the chance to break an old habit or form a new one. A New Year’s resolution can be a great opportunity to teach children about setting goals and working towards them.
Take some time to sit down together as a family and discuss your successes of the past year. Help your children see how much they have learned and grown, and then think about what you each would like to change or accomplish in the coming year.
When helping a child set a goal for himself, remember to keep it age-appropriate and attainable. For a very young child, instead of a broad statement like, "I will keep my room clean", choose a smaller, more manageable task. "I will put my toys away when I am finished playing" is not so overwhelming.
Children over six can come up with their own ideas for goal-setting, but may need help keeping their expectations realistic. Some ideas might be reading every day, taking up a new sport or hobby, or finding ways to be kind to others. Let your child choose a goal that she is truly interested in accomplishing.
As a parent, you can be a good role model by setting your own goals for the new year. Just as for children, you can set yourself up for success by choosing an important but attainable goal.
Many adult resolutions involve making healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or losing weight. You may also want to think about setting aside some extra time just for yourself, to pursue a hobby or simply relax. When you take care of yourself first, it is much easier to find the patience and energy required of a parent.
Be sure to include a goal for the entire family to work toward together. Eating healthier, being more active, or spending more time together as a family are all great general ideas. Work out a plan to put your goal into action. Will you all go for a walk, skate or bike ride every evening? Have a family game or movie night? Make up a menu of healthy meals to try?
By choosing attainable goals and working together to achieve them, your family can encourage and support one other. Your children will learn the satisfaction of setting and achieving goals. Most importantly, you will have given your family one more reason to spend time together as you navigate the challenges and triumphs of another year.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 3, 2013