For most adults, the days leading up to January 1st are a time of reflection and projection. We take stock of how well we did life the last twelve months and make a list of things we want to change or new things we want to try. We are conditioned to do this from years of magazine articles, water-cooler talk, and first of the year sermons.
For kids, January 1st is just another day out of school. It means talking their way out of the greens and black-eyed peas, and sneaking away to finish the chocolate and peppermints from their stocking. Parents can add significance to their kids’ New Year’s Day by encouraging them to envision the “best me” they can be.
Here are four ways to help your child set goals for the New Year.
- Character Counts
We want our children to have good character. It is the foundation for all future actions and responses. What character traits would you like to see your child develop this year? Ask them leading questions and give them encouragement in this area.
For example, I would like to see my oldest child embrace positive leadership with her siblings. To encourage this goal, I might ask her what she likes about being a big sister. I can help her make a short list of ways she can be a better big sister in the coming months. I can encourage her character development by providing positive feedback when she does some of the things on her list.
- Habits of a Happy Child
I know I am not the only mama out there tired of picking the towels and dirty clothes off the floor. It will not take parents very long to list habits we would like our children to develop in the coming year. Initiate a conversation with your child to help them see ways they can help at home. Start with phrases such as, “You know what would help me so much?” or, “One way you can show me you are ready for more privileges is to be more responsible with (fill in the blank).”
Consider ways to help them succeed at this goal. Sticker charts, weekly rewards, and incentives may encourage them to start. Practical adjustment such as the location of the hamper, kid-sized cleaning tools, and conveniently placed disinfectant wipes can improve the likelihood of children developing these new habits.
- Learn a New Skill
Children are busy. They have school, sports, and hobbies. Somewhere in all of that busy is a skill they would like to develop or improve. Talk about their current interests and things that spark their curiosity. Decide on something you can work on together.
Skill development does not have to be a strain on your budget. YouTube and niche blogs can provide the instruction they need to learn a new skill. Spend time together at the library reading about an interest. Exploring a new skill will most likely require some of your time, but what a worthy investment! It takes time to teach your son or daughter how to prepare a meal, how to catch a fly ball, or how to give a dog a bath. Your child will love that time with you!
- Serving Others
I want my kids to grow up knowing what it means to be a servant. Entitlement and selfishness do not have to be taught. Servant-hood, on the other hand, must be taught and caught. Does your child have a soft spot for a particular group or population? Help them come up with a plan to serve in that area.
Serve together as a family so your children will catch what you are teaching. Load up your teens and provide free lawn service for a widow. Spend time feeding the homeless at a local soup kitchen. If your child loves babies, volunteer to babysit for a new mom while she goes to the grocery store alone.
New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for grown-ups. With a little guidance from you, kids can set goals for the New Year, too. Help them write down specific and measurable goals for the coming year. Post them somewhere at home so you both will remember them. Celebrate with them when they meet or make progress toward a goal. Most importantly, enjoy growing closer as a family!