The Miller family had a proud tradition they had been following for almost 70 years. It was started by Grandpa Miller. Each member of the family would start thinking of a resolution for the new year right after Christmas dinner. They would share their resolutions with the whole family on New Year’s Eve. All the family members would support each other throughout the year to fulfil their resolutions. This year, little Sam was the most excited. He yelled at the Christmas dinner table itself that his resolution would be to know all the multiplication tables at the tip of his tongue!
Resolutions are firm decisions to do or not do something. Over the years it has become a trend to set a goal at the beginning of the year and try to stick to it throughout the year. Resolutions can motivate us to act and to take control of our lives. Children should be taught that they are the ones in charge of their lives, and they have the power to change them.
Children learn to focus on healthy habits and new goals just like adults. Setting goals can teach children persistence, focus and the value of planning. If your child plans to learn to ride the bike in six months and in turn is able to do so in three months, the sense of achievement she will feel is incomparable. Achieving short-term and long-term goals boosts the self-worth of children.
However, according to a 2016 study, out of the 41% people who make New Year’s resolutions, only 9% feel they are successful in keeping them by the end of the year. Few reasons why it is easier to quit include setting unrealistic goals or lack of planning. Also, it is hard to break old habits or maintain self-control.
We have some easy tips to follow to help your children stick to their new year resolution this year:
Set limited goals
While you and your child may want to achieve everything under the sun; help them focus and pick just 1-2 goals for the year. Taking on too much, all at once can be daunting for kids. It can be particularly difficult because establishing new behavioral patterns takes time and continuous effort. Focusing on one specific goal makes the resolution much more achievable.
Create a support system
Support is key when making changes. Ask your child what their goal is and encourage them to achieve it. Adults can follow the same process. Ask your friends and family to cheer you on when you move one step closer to your goal. If you can make goals as a family and encourage each other for your respective goals while taking regular stock of the progress; it goes a long way in moving forward.
Track progress & have a reporting mechanism in place
Track your child’s progress. This is also a way to reinforce the fact that your child is on his way to succeeding. The more he can see progress, the harder it will be to suddenly give up. For example, if your child would initially be able to solve a puzzle in 10 minutes and after regular practice he can solve it in 7 minutes, it acts as a motivation to practice more often.
Reward for milestones
Focusing too much on the end-goal can sometimes be counterproductive. At times, we can be so focused on the final result, that we forget the inputs that are needed to make them happen. In such a situation, we lose motivation as the journey seems too difficult or too long. It often works to reward a simple task that is completed, rather than an outcome. For example, if your child wants to get chosen on the football team in school by the end of the year, start with rewarding him on waking for practice every morning for 5 days in a row. Slowly, increase stakes to better speed while practicing, then to scoring goals and finally on making it to the team!
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Take a step back and assess
Sometimes, we fall short of achieving our goals. At such times, help your child take a step back and assess why this goal is so important to them. Your accountability to your goal will improve if you understand your motivation. It helps to build a positive mindset that reinforces why accomplishing this goal is important. Your child may want to participate in the inter-school swimming competition. Once he refocuses his attention and realizes the competition is in 2 months, the motivation to practice and get better will come automatically.
Goal setting rewires our brains. While setting a goal, we are programming our brains to change or create new behaviors and attain them. Focusing on specific goals allows the brain to create new, stronger bonds between neurons that help increase the likelihood that we achieve our goals!
So, shall we start this year with at least one resolution / goal we really want to achieve?
“Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.”
– Cavett Robert