We have all made New Year’s resolutions in our lifetime. In fact, the practice dates all the way back to ancient Roman times when promises were made for the upcoming year to the god Janus, for whom January is named. Our children hear a lot about New Year’s resolutions and often watch us parents make them (remember the gym?), try for a while, then usually break them (remember the gym?). Perhaps a better way of modeling for our kids and ourselves would be to set goals rather than ﬁrm commitments. It’s human nature to try things, achieve some and fail in others. Lofty or drastic resolutions such as quitting smoking cold turkey on January 1, losing 25 pounds by March, going to the gym 4 times a week etc., are very difﬁcult to achieve, and to not meet them can feel like failure. While the real truth is that in achieving some of the goal there is still great success! Children especially have a harder time sticking with commitments as they are still developing those important brain functions that work in unison to make reaching our goals viable. For us and for them, it may be best to model a tried and true system used by the Martial Arts. Small steps and achievable goals. Student don’t go directly from White Belt to Black Belt (a process that can take years). You go through a system of goal based colored belts before achieving Black. Similarly in our own lives, we can set goals such as, go to the gym once a week; achieve that, then see if we can make it twice a week.
Some children have difﬁculty reading or don’t really like it. As parents we want to encourage them to read. This may be a good time to set easy goals for them. Set a goal for them to read just one more chapter or one more book over the next day or week or month. Once they achieve this, they may ﬁnd another chapter or another book is not that hard or frightening to attempt. Setting realistic and obtainable goals makes for greater overall success and a feeling of accomplishment. Let’s make doing that our New Year’s resolution!