In January it seems everyone is focused on New Year resolutions. The good part of this is that people are trying to improve themselves which gives us a chance to talk to our kids about improving pieces of their lives or their habits. We also have the chance to model it for them with our own resolutions to improve. The not so good part is that people can easily fall off the resolution wagon and give up.
We must teach them how to succeed at changing, not just model how to try and then give up! I am no expert on resolutions or resolution-keeping, but I have found some tricks that have helped me be better at both. Try these five steps with your kids.
1. Focus on the change. The most important thing is that you/they are trying to do better, to change. Talk about the many opportunities we have for new beginnings. A new year. A birthday year older. A new school year. A new job. A new month. A new week. Even a new day is a fresh beginning. Use all of them if need be.
2. Keep resolutions focused on the process not the result. For example: #2 above is better than #1. The resolution should be the action that will lead to the goal. This makes success possible in smaller chunks. If your goal is to be healthier or in better shape [weight, strength, or otherwise] than a list of actions that will help you is a better, more achievable goal than "losing weigh" for example. Just like with eating, the smaller the child, the tougher the food, the smaller the bite!
3. Think of the changes as specific steps in a plan. Look at one week at a time. A year is far too long a chunk for kids. For younger kids, keep resolutions to day activities. "I will tell mom two things about school each day." or "I will set my alarm clock every night." Not "I will talk to mom more" or "I will get up better." Remember... small bites.
4. Build in flexibility. Remember that the goal is improvement, not perfection. Build in margins. Do not expect complete or instant change. Use those small bites to build your skills and your successes.
How does this work?
Example: I need to relax a bit more to reduce my stress. Since most of the stresses in my life are outside my control my plan for reducing stress is to build small chunks of down time into my days. My resolution? "Build in time to relax and unwind." My whiteboard's daily checklist now includes two 15-minute chunks for crafting, two for reading, two for "wasting time" [being still]. My goal is to do at least two of those 15-minute chunks per day. One day they both might be reading, another day they might be crafting, or 15 min crafting and 15 min just chilling. This makes my chances of building in relaxation far more likely to succeed. Since I have never been good at this I consider succeeding even once a week progress. When I have managed it once a week, I will try for twice a week, then three times, then four times, etc. using a new week/month as the new beginning for an uptick. See how it works? If I had a resolution to do 30 minutes a day of crafting, reading, or down time and expected to achieve that every day starting Jan 1st I would probably fail before the end of the first week. But by using the system above, I feel successful all along, and can at least be confident that I AM building in time to relax and unwind.
P.S. Sorry I'm late posting today. Image credit: motivates4life.com
I am a lifelong educator, writer and author, a foster, bio, and adoptive parent, happy mom of five daughters, Grandma to six, Nana to four, and church and theater musician. Oh yes, and all-round optimistic, crazy lady.