I make New Year's Resolutions every year. It feels like the one time of year when you can begin again, start fresh, even if it's illusory. To children, it's a time of wonder. They're not bogged down by years of unmet expectations and resolutions that have been made with all of the good intentions you can imbue in such an activity... only to let them fall by the wayside a few weeks in. For kids, a new year means something altogether different, and as parents we can capitalize on that with these New Year's resolutions to make with your kids.
Goal setting for children is incredibly important, noted a study published in the International Journal of Health Professions. Researchers wrote that our children respond especially well to goals parents help them set, particularly when they assist them by holding them accountable to the goals and directives they set forth. That means that if you are involved when your children write their resolutions, and can help them maintain interest and eschew excuses, you can help them achieve their resolutions better than if they set them on their own.
Ideally, the resolutions would be age appropriate for the children, and a task small enough to be completed, but large enough that it's noticed, like those in the list below.
1. Keep Your Mouth Healthy
I don't know what it is about brushing your teeth as a child, but it often seems like a bridge too far for many kids (my own included). I cannot tell you how many times per day I yell "Brush your teeth" or "Did you brush your teeth?" I'll admit some of my poorer parenting moments have surrounded teeth. Children's Dentistry of Western Georgia wrote that oral health is indicative of overall health, and that even baby teeth need lots of tending.
Having a good mouth routine (floss, brush, rinse, spit) and clean dentist appointments is a good goal for all of us, not just our kids.
2. Keep (At Least A Part Of) Your Room Clean
I once spoke with my grandmother about how she managed to get me to keep my room clean when my own mother had given up. She told me "I only ever make you pick up your floor and make your bed. The rest just gets done on its own." While that wasn't always true — my desk was a nightmarish hellscape where homework went to die — it was mostly successful.
And it makes sense. If you have certain areas clean, you're more likely to finish the job because of how it looks. If you make the goal of keeping your bed made, or your floor picked up, you're more likely just to put crap away.
3. Get or Give 12 Hugs Per Day (With Consent)
This is mostly a fun one. Psychologist Laura Markham Ph.D. quoted Virginia Satir in Psychology Today, who said, "We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth." Encourage your child — if they're the hugging sort — to snuggle up at least 12 times per day. Markam wrote that the feeling of closeness provided by all the hugs reassures the children that you're there for them and that you love them.
This is obviously only done with consent with children who appreciate physical affection. My son who is autistic likes hugs, but doesn't give them out. My daughter is a spider monkey. Every kid is different.
4. Improve In Some Area Of School
The Women and Children's Health Network wrote that it's important for kids to make all kinds of different goals, from taking care of yourself to learning long division. They wrote that goals that are aligned with school should be incremental. It shouldn't be "Be Better At Math," but instead be a more quantifiable goal like "Learn My Times Tables.
For my resolutions it's "Don't scream every time you read another ridiculous math problem in your child's textbook, children can smell fear." Common Core is no joke.
4. Put The Seat Down Each Time You Go To The Bathroom
Incidentally, this is also the resolution I'm making on behalf of my husband. There's no literature about this one, I just desperately want it to happen. Also, not having a penis I don't understand, but is it really necessary to pee all over the place in the mornings? I swear, after my 10 year old gets out of the bathroom, it smells like a bus station men's room.
He's old enough he gets to clean it himself, now. Thank the heavens.
5. Be Active 60 Minutes Per Day
A fitness tracker combined with a goal keeper, the vivofit junior tells your kids how much they're moving, and keeps them motivated with coins and prizes.
Researchers at the University of Kentucky, Lexington found that goal setting can really help kids get the recommended amount of activity in each day.
I've noticed that my kids are most active when we set the terms of the day. "After school, we'll spend an hour at the park getting your wiggles out, and then do homework." They like knowing how long activities will last. And now, making it happen is even easier with fitness trackers made for kids.
6. Learn To Meditate
Designed for ages 3 and up, these kits were created by childhood development and wellness experts "to provide children with a variety of tools for emotional development and well-being that will help them learn how to focus, self-regulate, and build confidence." Each pouch contains three handcrafted toys and a deck of beautifully illustrated Calm Mind Activity Cards.
I will admit that I'm not great at meditating. It's often one of my New Year's Resolutions, and I want my kids to be better than I am at the practice. Research has shown that kids who learn how to meditate perform better in schools, have better attendance, and behave better at home. Their brains are calmer and it shows, noted Forbes. (Sometimes a set of appealing meditation tools can help to pique their interest in the practice, like this gorgeous kit above.)
7. Read A New Book Each (Day/Week/Month)
Reading is a fundamental skill, and one of life's greatest joys. I'm a huge reader, and there's nothing more I want in life than to pass that love and skill along to my children.
The teachers at Scholastic wrote that goal setting is one of the best ways you can ensure that your child not only grows as a reader, but also that they develop a love of different genres and types of book. A great resolution that is easily tailored to a child's age is to read a certain number of books per week. My children's teachers go by minutes read, but for kids like my son, that's a low benchmark. For others, like my daughter, hitting that 30 minutes can be hard. She's a ball of kinetic energy.
Setting the goal of a book or two per week can make all the difference.
7. Learn How To Make 10 New Meals
Researchers have found that getting your kids in the kitchen helps them build positive relationships with food and also teaches them a valuable life skill, noted Kids Health. Yes, sometimes, you will regret this resolution as they mess up your kitchen and break 19 eggs, but much like potty training and not freaking out each time they take a tumble, it's too important to neglect. Start small. Learn how to make ten meals in a year, or just ten foods. Things that can be made over and over. Things they like.
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.