|How About a Resolution?
How About a Resolution?
New Year\'s resolutions give a perfect opportunity for you and your child to discuss areas in which there\'s room for improvement - so don\'t miss out! Here are some ideas, along with advice from Adele Brodkin, Ph.D. (a senior child development consultant for Scholastic), on how to take advantage of those January 1st declarations.
The sentiment of starting the year anew could be lost on younger kids, so Dr. Brodkin recommends introducing the concept of resolutions to upper elementary-age children.
Simply stating your own pledge can open up a rich conversation. Be prepared to discuss, discuss, discuss! \"Talk about the calendar year and how January is the perfect opportunity for a fresh start,\" says Dr. Brodkin. More curious kids can go online to explore how the traditions of making resolutions came to be.
The next step, of course, is asking your child if he has any ideas for a resolution of his own. \"You may be surprised at the motivation he displays,\" says Dr. Brodkin. \"Whatever his suggestion is, let him know that you think it\'s a worthwhile undertaking and that you\'ll help him see it through.\" Encourage him by challenging the rest of the family to come up with similar resolutions. For example, if your child wants to improve his reading skills, invite everyone else to come up with one reading-related resolution. You can even put your child in charge of collecting each family member\'s resolution and making a poster chart of them.
For each sensible idea, there is probably a silly one too. \"Be open to funny resolutions!\" says Dr. Brodkin, noting that your child\'s top priority for the New Year may very well be to win more video games than her brother. It\'s fine to embrace these ideas, but you can also promote one of these for a happy, healthy, learning-filled year:
I resolve to...
...Be more organized! Your child can make the most of his time by making sure he knows how to take notes, organize his work, and schedule his life with a planner. Once the clutter is vanquished, homework and studying will be simpler — and he\'ll have more time for fun. Try some of these super tools and ideas to get started.
...Break a bad habit! Poor posture, biting your nails, too much TV: All are great candidates for kick-the-habit New Year\'s resolutions. Quitting can be tough, but with encouragement your child can learn about determination and willpower — qualities that are valuable for years to come.
...Cut down on soda! Ring in the New Year by making sugary, caffeinated drinks a treat, not an all-the-time beverage. After 2 p.m., implement a \"decaf-only\" rule so your child isn\'t wide awake at bedtime. Substituting other liquids (such as water, milk, or juice) at dinner will have a calming effect and make it easier to sit down and concentrate on homework in the evening.
...Eat healthier foods! Encourage your child to get balanced when it comes to eating. Not only will this resolution help your child\'s body, but there are benefits for his brain, too! And while switching from sugary snacks to nutritional noshes can be a difficult transition for kids, it doesn\'t mean treats have to go away completely or forever. Try using the term \"cutting back\" instead of \"giving up\" — it\'ll make the task less daunting.
...Get a good night\'s sleep! Snoozing for at least 8 hours per night can increase energy and boost concentration. Encourage reading in the evening, instead of stimulating activities such as TV, Web-surfing, or video games.
...Improve academic habits! While it\'s honorably ambitious to declare \"I want to get all A\'s,\" your child might feel crushed if she doesn\'t make the grade on her first test. Instead, suggest that she aim to change her study habits, starting with creating a kid-friendly workspace. Try to be involved in her homework routine — listen to the frustrations she might have with a certain subject, and work together to find a solution. Once she feels more confident in her abilities, then higher grades will follow.
...Move my body! Exercise is important for a healthy heart and brain, so spend time each afternoon working up a sweat. Even if your child isn\'t involved in organized sports, you can still feel the burn with a daily walk together or a fun game (think Dance Dance Revolution).
More often than not, resolutions get broken. No worries — it is natural, and usually expected. So what to do when, a few weeks into January, your child goes back to his old ways? Draw on these motivating ideas:
Try it again. Restarting the good habit on a random date removes that New Year pressure. Decide on the day together, circle it on your calendar, and give a reminder the night before. That morning, mention it again: \"Let\'s try exercising together when you get home from school. It\'ll be a good start for having a healthier lifestyle.\" And don\'t underestimate the mantra \"One day at a time!\" Says Dr. Brodkin, \"Sometimes, something simple like that works best. And if your child fears he can\'t do it, let him know what\'s worked for you in a similar situation.\"
Offer incentives for following through with the resolution. Have the reward be appropriate: If she doesn\'t bite her nails after a week, give her a manicure (let her choose her own polish). Or if your child...
- Cuts back on the junk food in her diet, let her pick a special end-of-the-week meal (a healthy one!).
- Boosts his grades with improved study habits, allow him to stay up later one night of the week.
- Reads more non-school books, rent or go see a movie version of a favorite title (if there is no movie adaptation, pick something in a similar genre).
Have a heart-to-heart. Tell your child it\'s hard to follow a resolution perfectly and it doesn\'t have to be \"all or nothing.\" Explain that it\'s great to strive for big things, but that you don\'t want her to feel completely overwhelmed by the resolution. Ask what she thinks she can handle, and then work with her to come up with a plan that\'s doable.
Revise the resolution to make it more manageable. \"There\'s nothing magical or binding about a New Year\'s resolution; it\'s just a way to put in words what you want to work on,\" says Dr. Brodkin. So if the undertaking was too big, scale it down. For example, a child who barely read for pleasure pre-resolution might not succeed at his goal of reading a non-school book every week. Encourage him to start smaller, with five pages a day or a chapter every other night.
Adapted from Scholastic.com.