Setting Goals and New Year’s Resolutions with Your Child

New Year’s resolutions allow us to reflect and set goals for ourselves for the year ahead. They are great in helping us track our progress and stay on track to achieve our personal goals and become better versions of ourselves. 

But we know – sticking to resolutions and following through on them is going to be tough. While this is a good habit of starting with children, how can we help them stick to their resolutions? Here are some tips.

1. When they start school

The right age to get children started on New Year’s resolutions would be after they have started formal schooling when they have a better idea of ‘year’ and able to plan ahead.

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2. Make goals inspirational

Goals should be inspirational. They should encourage children to aspire towards a lofty objective, creating value for their personal growth or contributing to a situation’s greater good. This means, stay away from chores. Resolutions should help them think about who they want to be or what they want to achieve. For example, resolutions like “I want to learn how to swim” or “I want to write a book.”

3. It’s ok for the list to be short

Remember that resolutions are meant to help us become better versions of ourselves. They needn’t be a long list of to-dos. Depending on your child’s aspirations and age, it can be as short as one resolution a year.

4. Break goals down to simple steps

Help your child break down their aspirations with simple steps. For example, if they come up with a resolution such as, “I want to be the smartest in school.” You could help reframe that resolution to being the child that reads 20 books in a year or two books every month. Break down their goals into simple steps that they can achieve in the short term to help them track their progress. This method will also keep them motivated throughout the year.

5. Create a supportive environment

A supportive environment can be the make-it-or-break-it factor in helping anyone succeed, including our children. Where possible, consider how you can help your child achieve their goals. For example, if they wish to learn a new skill, you can look out for courses to pick up or consider searching for free YouTube tutorial videos online to help them get started.

6. Display resolutions somewhere visible

Have you heard of the saying “out of sight, out of mind”? Don’t let that happen to your child’s resolutions! Put up your child’s resolutions somewhere obvious to remind them about their goals – stick it up on the bedroom door or on their clothes cupboard where they will see it regularly.  You can write down their goals into achievable, bite-sized milestones on a wall blackboard that they can see and visualise daily. A good example would be the Janod Splash Wall Blackboard from Motherswork.

Janod Splash Wall Blackboard is a magnetic writing board with chalk on one side and erasable marker on the other. The board is magnetic on both sides and includes 26 wooden letters, one box of five chalks and one marker with a brush cap. $39.90. Credit: Motherswork

7. Encourage children

Everyone needs a little push now and then. If you notice your child does something on his/her own accord, recognise their efforts and compliment them. Praise and recognition from parents will help children progress further. You could also give them a surprise reward when they achieve or stick to their resolutions.  Some creative suggestions include:

  • Creating a charm bracelet with your girl and rewarding her with a charm every time she achieves her set goals until the charm bracelet is complete and she can proudly wear it as a testimony to her determination and development.
Galt Cute Charm ($24.90) has 10 coloured metal charms, 20 decorative silver beads, 150 coloured and 130 silver pony beads, silky cord and elastic to create multiple sets of thematic bracelets and necklaces. Credit: Motherswork
  • Rewarding them with a “salary” for achieving their goals. That’s right; it is never too early to teach the kids how to value hard work and the rewards that come with it. This also teaches them about savings at the same time. Let them choose a thematic piggy bank like Motherswork Child to Cherish piggy banks in 11 colourful designs.
Made from only the highest quality ceramic, known as dolomite, for increased durability, these piggy banks are sure to tickle your kid’s fancy. ($49.90 - $69.90). Credit: https://motherswork.com.sg/ Motherswork

8. Work with children on their goals

Have occasional check-ins on their progress. It may also help when you are working with them on their goals. It shows that you have an active interest in their aspirations and want them to success. If their goals are not related to school activities, you could check in on their progress during term breaks. For example, if their goal is to become more skillful in something, you could help make plans, schedule, and put aside 20 minutes every morning when you can practice with them to help them achieve that.

9. Reflect and discuss challenges

Checking in with your child occasionally on their progress will help you identify the challenges they may face. When they face failures or setbacks, these are great teaching moments to help your child develop problem-solving skills. Talk to them and help them work through their challenges. These could also be moments when you teach them good habits such as time-management, prioritising tasks and communications skills to ask for help. Talk to them about their emotions and help them become resilient to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks.

10. Don’t nag

And, our last tip is a gentle reminder not to nag at children about their resolutions. Resolutions shouldn’t become a burden for them so that they would continue to aspire and work towards their dreams.

Finally, think about how you can show your appreciation to them for taking on this big task and bond with them through this activity. One way is to keep your record of their progress in a unique milestone journal like these Milestone Mini Cards from Motherswork.  Write down the achievements, take a picture with them and keep these cards to look back on together.

Caption: There are 100 cards to record your child’s achievements, funny moments and keep them safe in a box or scrapbook. ($24.90). Credit: Motherswork

For those who need some help on getting started, here are some examples of resolutions you could suggest (don’t force) for your child to take on:

  • Resolution 1: I want to be a good sibling
    Small actionable steps: Help siblings with a task every week. 
  • Resolution 2: I want to be a good swimmer / piano player
    Small actionable steps: Practice the skill for 30 minutes every day or 2 hours every weekend
  • Resolution 3: I want to be a leader
    Small actionable steps: Set a good example by volunteering for a task in school every day week
  • Resolution 4: I want to be brave
    Small actionable steps: Depending on which fear they want to conquer, help them to overcome it slowly. For example, if they have a fear of speaking in public, help them rehearse and tell a short story amongst smaller groups of people, starting with familiar people such as family and relatives.

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