One of our family traditions was to stay up on New Year's Eve and take it in turns to set out our resolutions. I have very fond memories of those evenings all huddled up discussing our aspirations for the upcoming year and what we hoped to achieve. We were always filled with great optimism and grand plans and yet I have few, if any, memories of us discussing our progress with these resolutions beyond the middle of January.
We've all seen the statistics, 50% of us make resolutions each year and yet less than 18% of resolutions are achieved with over 25% broken within the first week. So why bother and is there any benefit in children setting themselves resolutions? The simple answer is yes you should make resolutions and yes children really benefit from setting them too. The evidence is pretty compelling, you are more likely to make a positive change in your life if you state your intentions explicitly and the process of self-reflection and goal setting help children develop a growth mindset which is key to their future success.
If you follow these five basic rules you are much more likely to be successful in your intentions whilst still learning from the inevitable ups and downs along journey:
1. Focus on one change at a time
By channelling all your energy and time to achieving one goal you are much more likely to be successful. It also means you don't end up with conflicting priorities. Help children decide which change they want to make first by asking them to focus on how they will feel when they have achieved success.
2. Break the goal down into manageable steps
Focus on writing down the small steps which you will need to take in order to achieve the final goal. Make each step tangible, measurable and time bound. Encourage your child to use a journal to chart their progress.
3. Communicate your intentions
By telling people about the changes you want to make you become accountable to someone other than yourself. Make mealtimes a chance to catch up with each others resolutions, the challenges you are facing and the successes you have had. Your child might only want to communicate their intentions within your own family group, which is absolutely fine, or alternatively they might want to get their teachers, sports coach, or friends involved too.
4. Celebrate each small success
With every small success your child achieves on the way, celebrate. This doesn't mean going out to buy them presents but it might mean a favourite pudding, a late night movie, or a celebratory family outing.
5. Accept setbacks as part of the journey
This is key to success and developing a growth mindset. Whilst we all want to achieve our goals it is in fact the setbacks along the journey which teach us the most. Encouraging our children to embrace the setbacks helps them understand the importance of the journey as well as the final destination.
Whilst New Years Eve is a natural time to set resolutions it isn't the only time. Encouraging children to regularly reflect on what they would like to change about their habits is a great life skill and embraces a philosophy of continual self-improvement, a habit maintained by all successful adults. So here's to your resolutions throughout 2016!
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