By Donna Morrison, Director of Early Childhood Programs
When I make my personal New Year’s resolutions, I try to keep them focused on doing something positive as opposed to depriving myself of something. For example, “I will walk one step more each day to increase my activity” instead of “I will not sit and watch TV every night.” Putting the resolution in the affirmative gives me an optimistic mental starting point, which gives me a better chance of success. I feel as though I’m gaining, not losing. This kind of positive spin is helpful when getting your young children to make resolutions, too.
Pre-school children can be taught self-discipline and focus by making a New Year’s resolution. Again, help your young child choose a task and state it in a positive way. For example, “I will be a better listener when Mom talks to me” instead of “I will not disobey Mom.”
Young children also need regular support and feedback. Doing some type of visual record keeper is a great way to remind your child of the resolution and help ensure success. One idea is to cut out a bunch of small paper hearts. Tape one heart to the outside of a large jar and keep the other hearts on reserve. Every time your child demonstrates her resolution of being a good listener, she can take a heart from the reserve and put it into the jar. After your child reaches a certain number of hearts in the jar, offer some kind of small reward. For example, you can allow her to pick what the family has for dinner after getting five or 10 hearts in the jar. Empty the jar on a regular basis (reaching the goal), depending on the child’s age. The younger your child, the more frequently you’ll want to empty the jar.
This is a great way to not only set a pattern of good behavior, but also to celebrate your child’s success together. For more ideas, check out New Year's Resolutions with Your Child by Laura Lewis Brown.