As 2017 closes in, most people have already begun the time-honored (read: oft dreaded) task of determining the resolutions we hope to master over the course of the next 365 days or so. But what about little ones? Should you make New Year's resolutions for your kids? After all, even when they are old enough to verbalize resolutions, they might sound a lot like "learn to ride a unicorn" or "become president." And while those are both lofty goals indeed, they aren't exactly realistic within the scope of what can be accomplished come 2017. So what do you do?
First, let's take a look at why people make resolutions in the first place. According to Live Science, it's a tradition that dates back to the ancient Babylonians, who actually celebrated their new year with a festival called Akitu in March. Their resolutions were spoken out loud and practical in nature. Ancient Romans apparently also honored the practice of making New Year's resolutions — they devoted the first half of New Year's Day to "oath-taking," in fact. These days, resolutions are more secular and focus largely on self-improvement. A GoBankingRates survey showed that the most popular resolutions for 2016 were to enjoy life to the fullest, live a healthier lifestyle, and lose weight.
It goes without saying these aren't really the kind of goals you'd want your children to channel. Well, maybe living life to the fullest but, let's be real . . . kids don't have nearly as much difficulty with that as we adults do. That's not to say kids shouldn't make resolutions at all, though. In an interview with Parents, Dr. Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, explained that children ages 7 to 12 are at an ideal age for resolution-making. "They're still young enough that their habits are not firm," she said. "They're old enough to think about what a New Year's resolution is and to make their own — yet parents can help guide them. They're not going to get the same backlash as from a teenager."
In the same interview, parent and child therapist Jennifer Kolari agrees that making resolutions can be beneficial for a child's development. However, in response to whether or not parents should make resolutions for their children, Kolari (and most of the other experts interviewed) offer up an emphatic no. "Ask them what they want for themselves. If it's your agenda that's driving the conversation, you're not listening," she underscored. Do you hear that, Mama? As tough as it can be to relinquish control, we should allow our little ones to come up with their own list of goals they hope to achieve in 2017. Doing so will help them think independently and open a line of dialogue with you as the year progresses.
If you're looking for a few solid ideas in case your child does ask for help in defining their New Year's resolutions, the American Academy of Pediatrics provides a list of ideas every year broken down by age range. If your child seems unsure about the whole resolution-making process but does express interest, why not try sitting down and making resolutions as a family? If spending quality time together happens to be at the top of your list, you'll already have a head start.