Making New Year’s resolutions as a family is a great way for your kids to learn about goal-setting, habits, and self-discipline. Plus, when you’re done, you’ll have a set of goals you can work toward all year—and an opportunity to celebrate as a family when you check them off the list! (And as a bonus, you might even find that you stick to your own resolutions this year.) We chatted with Jade Williams, Maven Wellness Coach, about some tips for teaching kids how to set New Year’s resolutions:
Reflect on the past year
Take a few minutes to reflect on your accomplishments over the past year, both individually and as a family. Share your reflections first, then encourage your kids to talk about a few things they’re proud of—did they overcome an obstacle, make new friends, or learn a new skill? Next, tell your kids about something you wish you had done or would like to do more of next year (such as watching less TV, spending more quality time together as a family, or trying new healthy recipes), and then give them the floor so they can do the same.
Use your child’s reflections to guide them toward goals that they might want to set for this year. If they’re proud of learning how to play soccer in the backyard, would they like to join a team this year? Make sure you’re giving your kids the opportunity to take ownership of their goals—it’s okay to provide a little guidance and make sure the goals they suggest are age-appropriate and attainable but encourage their creativity and personal insights.
Keep it simple
Once everyone has come up with some ideas, it’s time to narrow down the list. Encourage your kids to choose one or two goals so that they’re more likely to follow through with them.
Support them in selecting those they’re more likely to follow through with. Consider asking which goal feels most important to them and why in order to help them narrow it down.
Break goals down into steps
Help your kids think about how they can make their goals more specific and actionable. If their intention is to get better at playing piano, how will they do that? Will they practice for a set amount of time each week? What will help them remember to practice (for example, setting an alarm or writing it down on a family calendar)? What potential barriers may come up for them? Thinking through these logistics will be helpful in navigating the inevitable obstacles that will arise.
Track progress, and adjust as necessary
Make your list of goals visible by hanging them on a bulletin board or on the fridge to serve as a reminder of what you’re working towards. Check in periodically with your kids to see how things are going. Ask questions like, “What’s going well? What’s not going so well?” Help them adjust their approach as necessary, for example, if it’s too hard to stick to reading 15 minutes a day, maybe they say they’ll read an hour per week so that they have more flexibility.
Lead by example
The best thing you can do to teach your kids about goal-setting and self-discipline is to model the behavior yourself. Show your kids what it looks like to hold yourself accountable, and they’ll take notice.
More importantly, let them know when you’re struggling with a goal and what steps you plan to take to get yourself unstuck. Remember, when kids see grown-ups making adjustments instead of getting frustrated and giving up, they’re learning an important life skill that will serve them well for years to come.
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