SMART New Year’s Resolutions Help Kids Succeed

(Original post Healthy Families BC Dec 27th , 2017

The transition from one year to the next provides a great opportunity to celebrate the
accomplishments of the year gone by, and set goals for the year that is coming. For kids, reflecting on all the things they have learned to do independently or improved on can set the stage for talking about what they want to achieve in the New Year.

Making SMART Resolutions

Most kids will need some guidance to create New Year’s Resolutions. As a parent, you can suggest a few broad categories such as health, school or friendship. But kids should come up with their own resolutions so they take ownership of the goals and learn to plan. You can make sure they are age appropriate, and help them use the SMART approach. SMART resolutions are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely:

Specific – A resolution to eat healthy is too vague. Be specific; “I will eat healthier by only having fast food once per month,” or “I will eat more vegetables by having salad with dinner four nights a week, and taking raw vegetables in my lunch four days a week.”

Measurable – Once there is a specific goal, figure out how to track progress. Mark it on a calendar, or keep track in a journal.

Achievable – The goal should be ambitious but attainable.

Realistic – The resolution needs to be something your child wants to do, that is relevant to their life.

Timely – The resolution should specify a reasonable time frame and can include goals along the way. Reaching milestones can motivate them to keep working toward their goal.

Sticking with it

It is easy to let a New Year’s Resolution slide. Here are some tips to set your child up for success:

 If your child agrees, consider joining the resolution. A support system helps us all persevere. If they have a fitness resolution, ask if you can join them one or two days a week. If they are trying to eat healthier by having more vegetables, ask if you can help by committing to a vegetarian meal once a week, such as Meatless Mondays.

 Expect lapses. That is part of the learning. But remind your child that it is not all or nothing. Even if they don’t meet the goal, getting part way is still progress.

 If the plan isn’t working, adjust it. Talk through other ways to work toward the resolution.

Turning a good intention into a habit is an important skill. And don’t forget! Celebrate the milestones along the way to help keep everyone motivated to meet their 2019 goals.

Author’s Bio:  Moira McLean is a communications manager at Island Health with 20 years of experience as a television and radio journalist. She is a mom of twin boys, and loves to write about issues facing parents and kids.