- Skip to content
How To Help Kids Set New Year’s Resolutions - Antsy Labs

How To Help Kids Set New Year’s Resolutions

With the year coming to a close, it’s time to start thinking about your next set of New Year’s Resolutions.


While the practice of setting goals at the beginning of the year has its doubters - this BBC writer asks if it’s powerful or pointless - roughly 40% of American adults set resolutions last year.


Their top 3 resolutions?

  • To exercise more
  • To eat healthier
  • To lose weight

These resolutions can seem perfectly reasonable for adults, especially when we consider people are often making them in the season of sweet treats, holiday parties, and exercise-prohibitive weather.


But are these the right resolutions for kids? 


And should kids even be considering New Year’s resolutions? 


As adults, we can develop a complicated relationship with this annual goal-setting ritual. Yet the way we talk about these goals and resolutions can become complicated for the kids in our lives (should they be worrying about exercise and losing weight?).


Still, this practice can be powerful, with Psychology Today calling goal-setting an essential skill for kids.


The difference between our specific goal-setting angst and the skill itself? It’s about developing a healthy goal-setting practice. 


As you are getting ready to shape your own resolutions for this coming year, we wanted to share what we found about helping kids set healthy New Year’s Resolutions, too.

YOU’RE PRETTY AWESOME FOR YOUR AGE


Tired of adults telling you stories that start with “... back when I was your age...”? Let them know how awesome you are right now by unlocking these IRLAs and show them you’re ready. Growing up doesn’t just have to be about harder classes and more chores. It means getting to do things we’ve never done before (and getting sweet coins all along the way!). Grown-ups like to call it growing up… 


We prefer to call it leveling up to awesome.



How New Year’s Resolutions Help Kids Grow

As adults, our New Year’s Resolutions can center around the things we’d like to change about ourselves or our situations.


For kids, their resolutions are a chance to help them focus on developing good habits, writes Dr. Falusi. What is an important focus at this stage is making sure the habits relate well to their age. Take the following three age ranges as examples:  

  • Preschoolers - these habits include brushing teeth, cleaning up toys, and trying new foods.

  • Kids (5 to 12) - these habits include more personal safety and security, like wearing sunscreen, using a helmet, and keeping personal info safe.

  • Teens (13 and older) - these habits begin to include more connection with the world around them, including habits about dating, community involvement, and choices with friends.

Though the goals may be age-appropriate, each range shares a common theme: goal-setting, says Lauren Mosback, LPC, NCC, helps children engage in “self-reflection, explore interests and passions, develop decision-making skills, enhance self-awareness, develop a sense of purpose, strengthen identity and increase self-confidence.”

Types Of New Year’s Resolutions Families Can Set Together

Though goal-setting is primarily an individual activity, it can also be powerful when shared.


The young ones in our lives often look to us for examples. With our own annual struggles and successes with New Year’s Resolutions, we may wonder if we’re setting the right example.


Another way of framing these resolutions is to make them shared instead of solitary. With buy-in from the whole family on goals that impact the whole family, you can highlight the value of working together.


Here are a few examples of family-focused New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Making dinner together once a week
  • Putting away our devices during shared meals
  • Having a family game night every week
  • Organizing a monthly volunteer activity

Steps To Picking The Right New Year’s Resolutions For Kids

There are many lists of New Year’s Resolutions for kids. They sound great in theory, like “I will read for 30 minutes every night” or “I will always weigh out my dad’s coffee grounds in the morning” (wishful thinking?).


While we may have some ideas about the habits or behaviors we’d love our young ones to develop, it’s not entirely up to us to decide. 


As Dr. Willis shares for Psychology Today:

“Choice (initially with guidance for what is possible) builds children’s sense of ownership, along with their skills of judgment and decision-making. Having choice also helps children diminish negativity about their potentials and/or school success that they may have developed through failures or underachievement.”


From that choice comes motivation, gratification, and the skills to see their goal through to its natural conclusion. 


To get to that point, we’ve compiled some general steps for coming up with goals - and then achieving them.

  1. Start With Self-Reflection - While questions like “How can I improve this year?” and “How does achieving goals make me feel?” may seem like big ideas, they are the sort of open-ended discussion points that can help children get more out of this goal-setting experience.

  2. Make The Goal Relevant - While we’re certainly fans of setting SMART goals, all of the specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound goals are useless if it’s not a goal that your young one is interested in or wants to reach. Start from their interest level, and go from there.

  3. And Then Make It Realistic - Our own goal-setting is far from perfect. Who among us hasn’t thought “I’m going to read 100 books this year (even though I only read two last year)” or “I’m going to run a marathon a month this year (even though I’m still recovering from my 4th of July 5k)”? The point of helping kids set realistic goals is not to discourage big dreams. Rather, try to guide the resolutions to actual goals.

  4. Sustain the Effort - Most of us know from experience how much easier it is to write down a goal than it is to make it happen. One of the keys to accomplishing the goals we set out for is actually making regular progress. You can help your young ones with that progress by helping them be optimistic (help them visualize the future to get excited about achieving their goals) and by helping them be aware of their progress (use points, charts, blocks, stickers, etc. to show how they’re doing).

  5. Let It Be Their Goal - At the end of the day (or the year), this is their goal, not yours. They will accomplish it in their way. While it may be tempting to ask regularly, this can come off as nagging. To avoid this, see if you can agree to a regular check-in period to help encourage reflection. If progress is different than they expected, share your own experiences about what’s worked for you - and what hasn’t.

If you’re looking to help your youngsters work on their goal-setting, you can also consider our IRLA Pack for Early Achievers.

YOU’RE PRETTY AWESOME FOR YOUR AGE


Tired of adults telling you stories that start with “... back when I was your age...”? Let them know how awesome you are right now by unlocking these IRLAs and show them you’re ready. Growing up doesn’t just have to be about harder classes and more chores. It means getting to do things we’ve never done before (and getting sweet coins all along the way!). Grown-ups like to call it growing up… 


We prefer to call it leveling up to awesome.



With unlockable achievements that involve reading books, going to museums, and more, this pack is a great way of rewarding their childhood accomplishments with a fun physical token.


What about you? Have you talked to your kids about New Year’s Resolutions? What’s your strategy?

Previous article How To Break Up With Your Phone in 2023: 12 Digital Detox Challenges
Next article Turn A New Page With These 12 New Year’s Reading Resolutions


00:00 00:00
.