Helping Kids Set (and Keep) New Year’s Resolutions

Do your kids have trouble keeping the resolutions they set each year? A Macomb County expert offers tips on helping them make the changes they want in 2021.

The fresh new year is a perfect time to take a look at yourself and make any positive changes that you’d like — and this goes for kids, too. 

But how do you help a young child or a rebellious teen keep the resolutions for positive change that they make going into 2021? 

We spoke with Nancy Buyle, the school safety and student assistance consultant with Macomb Intermediate School District, to get her advice for parents looking to support their kids with their goals in the New Year

Setting goals 

The first step in helping a child set a goal that they’ll keep is to encourage them to take a look inward to figure out what they’d like to accomplish. 

For younger kids, Buyle suggests parents let them take the lead but also talk through the ideas they have. Then, maybe create worksheets that will help them lay out the steps they need to complete their resolutions. 

Teens, on the other hand, need a more hands-off approach that starts with them looking at their feelings when they’re in a darker mood on their own, and deciding what, in that moment, would make them feel good about themselves. 

From there, kids should work out an action plan to accomplish that goal. 

“Think through the action items you will need to accomplish and get them in writing. If your goal is to make a cake but you have no idea what ingredients go into it or what steps to complete first, you are less likely — if at all — to make the cake. In this same way, if you have a desire and do not think through what it takes to achieve that you are more likely to become discouraged,” she explains. 

Once a goal is set and an action plan is made, Buyle says kids should say their goal out loud to someone else in order to make themselves more accountable. Then, they can put together a vision board — a collage filled with images, drawings and phrases that represents the goals they want to accomplish in a way that makes sense to them — as a visual reminder to keep on track. 

“I encourage kids to visualize the life they would like to have, or even more simply, visualize something they want,” Buyle says. “(A vision board) will be a powerful reminder of what you want and can help you stay motivated.”

If your child can’t decide on a goal, Buyle says they can start by doing one positive thing a day in the areas of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. 

A parent’s role 

A parent’s primary place in all of this is to be a source of encouragement and support for the child who is trying to make the change, Buyle says. 

They can be a soundboard for the kids’ ideas when they are first trying to set a resolution and they should also be the ears when a child is struggling and a cheerleader when they have success. 

“Be a magnifying glass for the positive, not a microscope for the flaws,” she says. 

A parent should also be the one who picks their child up if they’ve fallen off the resolution bandwagon, too. 

“Offer your child an opportunity to give their own ideas of what may have gotten them off-track (and) ask them if they think they need to re-evaluate the resolution and change it up a bit,” Buyle explains. “Help them realize that sometimes we ‘bite off more than we can chew,’ but that does not mean that the resolution or goal was not a good one. It often just means we need to go back to the drawing board and adjust our action steps and make them smaller and more achievable.” 

And if they need to come up with a new way of reaching the goal they want to achieve, help them find a new plan.  

For more information on living and learning in Macomb County, visit Make Macomb Your Home. Find more articles like this at Metro Parent’s A Family Guide to Macomb County.

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