Thursday, 23 May 2024

Should Kids Set New Year’s Resolutions?

It is common for adults to associate New Year’s resolutions with failed attempts at change, leading some to question the value of encouraging children to set resolutions. However, many child development experts believe that setting goals with children on New Year’s can have numerous benefits. Not only does it teach them about the power of goal-setting and follow-through, but it also helps parents serve as positive role models.

The Benefits of Youth Resolutions

The American Academy of Pediatrics is a strong advocate for setting resolutions with children. They provide age-specific recommendations, such as encouraging preschoolers to wash their hands before eating and empowering high schoolers to reduce soda intake and stand up to bullying. While some may argue that setting goals with young children is unnecessary, others believe that childhood is the perfect time to teach them how to form new habits.

Christine Carter, author of “Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents,” emphasizes that children between the ages of 7 and 12 are still malleable in terms of their habits. They are old enough to understand the concept of New Year’s resolutions and make their own goals, yet they still require guidance from parents. The focus should be on the process of goal-setting rather than whether or not they achieve their desired results.

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Setting Resolutions as a Family

Most children may not be inclined to sit down and make their own resolutions, nor follow through on them without guidance. Setting goals as a family is an excellent way to demonstrate the importance of support from loved ones in achieving goals. Clinical health psychologist Indira Abraham-Pratt states that family resolutions foster teamwork and encourage healthier habits for everyone involved.

Moreover, involving children in the goal-setting process allows parents to demonstrate what good goals look like, how to write them, and what steps to take to achieve them. Children may propose ambitious goals, such as winning every game in a sports season. In these cases, parents can help them reframe their goals into something more manageable and within their control. Displaying the family’s goals in a visible location, like on a fridge or bulletin board, can serve as a reminder and motivation for everyone.

Regular check-ins, scheduled once or twice a month, enable parents to ask about their child’s progress, address any challenges they may be facing, and provide strategies for overcoming them. It is crucial to share both successes and struggles, as well as one’s own progress with personal resolutions. Transparency about the possibility of failure allows families to prepare for difficult moments in advance, increasing the chances of overall success by the end of the year.

Avoiding Common Resolution Mistakes

While setting resolutions can be beneficial for children, there are some common pitfalls to avoid. For instance, if resolutions are imposed on children without their input, it is likely to result in low enthusiasm and a decreased interest in setting goals in the future. This is particularly true if the suggested resolution is something parents have been emphasizing, such as a household chore.

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First-time resolutions, whether for children or adults, should not be overwhelming or lacking clear benchmarks. It is essential to keep the list of resolutions short and break them down into actionable steps. For example, if a child’s resolution is to be tidier, parents can encourage them to start by putting their shoes away when they arrive home. Verbal praise can serve as a reward, avoiding the need for external incentives. By maintaining a positive frame around resolutions, like focusing on “eating healthier” instead of “avoiding desserts,” children are more likely to stay motivated.

Being a Resolution Role Model

The best way to foster enthusiasm for goal-setting in children is to lead by example. Two key questions children ask themselves are whether following through on a goal is enjoyable and whether their role models demonstrate the possibility of achieving goals. If these conditions cannot be met, it may be best to postpone setting resolutions with children. Instead, parents can focus on helping their children explore their passions and follow their dreams, emphasizing the importance of happiness.

Happy children are more likely to succeed academically and achieve their goals. They develop confidence and enter the world without excessive worry. This serves as a valuable gift from parents. However, if parents do decide to set resolutions with their children, the most effective way to emphasize the importance of goal-setting is by following through on their own resolutions. This added accountability creates an environment that fosters change, not only for the child but for the entire family.

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Q: Should children set resolutions that are too ambitious?
A: It is advisable to help children reframe their resolutions into something more manageable and within their control. This allows them to experience a sense of achievement and build momentum toward their goals.

Q: How can families support each other in achieving resolutions?
A: Setting resolutions as a family encourages teamwork and support. Regular check-ins, sharing progress and challenges, and celebrating successes together creates a supportive environment.

Q: Should parents offer rewards for achieving resolutions?
A: It is better to avoid external rewards for resolutions. Verbal praise and the intrinsic satisfaction of achieving a goal are more effective motivators for children.


Setting New Year’s resolutions with children can be a worthwhile endeavor. It teaches them about goal-setting and follow-through, strengthens family bonds, and helps parents serve as positive role models. By avoiding common resolution mistakes and fostering a supportive environment, families can inspire change and set the stage for future success. For more information on goal-setting and positive youth development, visit the official Alpinetgheep website.