Making New Year's Resolutions for Children

How the whole family (even little ones) can work on improving themselves

new year's resolutions for kids
Helping your preschooler make a New Year's resolution, even a simple one, is a great way to teach them about setting and keeping goals. Tom Grill

The New Year's resolution is a time-honored tradition. Every year, people make promises to themselves -- I want to lose weight, I want to stop smoking, I want to travel more among others. While New Year's resolutions are generally made by adults, parents can sometimes decide to make resolutions for their children. While your preschooler might be a little young to make a conscious decision to change their behavior, certainly there are probably aspects of their conduct you'd like to improve upon.

From potty training to trying to convince your little one to try new foods there are host things you can do to help your little one mature socially.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also come up with some New Year's resolutions for kids including some specific to preschoolers, including:

  • I will clean up my toys.
  • I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
  • I won't tease dogs - even friendly ones. I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from their mouths.

The important thing about helping your little one to change his behavior is to do it slowly and with patience. Young children can be pretty set in their ways and resistant to change. And tackle one thing at a time -- you don't want to overwhelm her.

Here are some social and behavior goals you might want to consider setting for your little one in the new year:

  • Picky eating.

Or maybe there are some new things you'd like your little one to learn, like being earth-friendly, practicing good manners, setting a bedtime routine or even how to be grateful.

For other parents, New Year's resolutions for their children involve personal or self-care, such as learning to get dressed and undressed and starting to use the toilet. You can also set goals as a family. Maybe you'd like to keep the house cleaner. Or, to make things fun, implement a family game night every week or an after-dinner walk if the weather is good. Whatever you choose, make sure the goal is attainable and something that everyone can participate in.

Ultimately, the goal of any New Year's resolution for your little one should be about helping them to become more independent and learn to get along with others, whether it's in preschool or just in general. If you can add some fun into the mix, even better!

How to Implement Change
Preschoolers can definitely be stubborn creatures. To change a behavior you aren't crazy about or to implement a new one, be prepared for some friction in the beginning. You may want to start by talking to your little one about what you are going to be working on. If you've set a resolution for yourself, share your own goals and hopes. You can support one another during the process!

To encourage good behavior, consider setting up a reward system of some kind.

And be sure to help your child along the way. If your preschooler is going to work on keeping his room cleaner, for example, don't necessarily leave him with a big mess and tell him to get to it. Spend a few minutes helping (not doing it all yourself though, make sure your little one is participating!), setting a good example for your child by doing, not just saying, will go a long way in helping her reach her resolution.

If you have any setbacks -- potty training accidents or maybe an issue at school -- take appropriate action, but don't be to hard on your little one. Know that he's trying. Keep encouraging his best efforts.

To be encouraging, maybe share a story of when you struggled with learning to do something new.

Acknowledge Successes!
Once your child is making some real headway and you are starting to see some progress, definitely offer praise and encouraging words. Your approval will only make your little one work harder. Think about a time when you've done something you are proud of. It feels good to have your accomplishment acknowledged, right? The same holds true for little kids, especially when coming from a parent or adult they love and hold in high esteem. When you give your child a hug and tell your child how proud you are of them will make you both feel great!

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