As 2019 gets underway, I'm surrounded by adults making themselves promises for the year ahead.
‘I won’t drink so much,’ ‘I'll lose at least a stone,’ ‘I'll get a better job.’
And while I appreciate the sentiment, and the feeling of a fresh start that the new year can bring, I think it's important that our children see us promoting positivity, and kindness to ourselves – even in our new year resolutions.
‘I'll increase my alcohol-free days,’ ‘I’ll eat better and exercise more,’ and ‘I'll find a job I love’ all sound better to young and impressionable ears. And there’s no reason children can’t join in the fun of resolutions, as long as parents are careful to help structure the wording and tone. After all, it’s great to teach children early on about setting goals for themselves and sticking to them, and this can be a great way to introduce the concept.
This week, my four-year-old decided her resolution was going to be to learn to cook, vowing to help mummy or daddy with dinner at least one night each week. And I think the second part of this resolution is important – the specifics. If children are going to have resolutions, specifics are needed to keep them attainable. Instead of saying ‘I’m going to eat healthier’ try ‘I’m going to have one sweet treat a day,' or ‘I’m going to drink two glasses of water a day instead of soft drinks.’
Getting more active and limiting screen time are other resolutions that are great to introduce to your children, but – again – be careful with the wording. ‘I’m going to read for 15 minutes each night before bed’ sounds better than ‘no iPad before bed.’ And ‘be more active’ can mean anything, whereas ‘join a dance class/gymnastics club/football team’ has a clear path to follow.
The structure of regular chores is another great idea to introduce as a resolution, and this can be changed each week to keep things interesting, with children committing to ‘set the table for dinner every night this week’ or ‘help clean my bedroom this weekend.’
Whatever your child commits to in 2019 – and this will likely be different for each child, so if you have more than one, take the time to chat to each of them about what their goals are – they will need your support. For younger ones, this could mean wall charts and stickers, for older children, maybe checking in with them on their progress over Friday night dinner.
And setting family goals is a great way to get motivated as a group – maybe committing to a weekend family walk, or taking it in turns to cook dinner throughout the week.