Helping Youth Change Behaviors with New Year’s Resolutions
The start of a new year is a great opportunity to reflect upon not only the successes of the past year but also areas where behaviors need to be improved. This is nothing new for adults, but it can also be a time for adolescents or younger youth to reflect on their behaviors as well. For this to be a successful venture, here are a few guidelines to consider.
The “I want this factor”
Is the resolution important to the child? We all know how difficult it is to make behavior changes. This is increasingly so if one can not decisively say “I want this to happen!”. When helping your child make a new year’s resolution, be sure it is something that is relevant to them. If not, make an attempt to help them see the value of the resolution, but with out that strong desire to make the change, success is unlikely.
Is it attainable?
What we “want to be” and “what we can be” are not the same. This especially needs to be considered when helping a child make resolutions. For example, there probably are limits to how much money your child can earn or save. Setting a goal to make straight “A’s” in every subject is very commendable, but is it realistic? A goal to improve grades in each subject or meet with the teacher for extra help until a desired grade is made may be more appropriate. Simply put, make resolutions that are realistic and possible. It’s too overwhelming to start the goal with “what I want to be”. When making the resolution, consider “what can I do”?
Accountability and support.
If possible, make a resolution that you and your child can work towards together. New Years resolutions to eat healthier and do more selfless acts for others are examples of behavior changes many are working towards, both young and old and can be done together. Not only can working together make the commitment to change more convenient, but can also be helpful in offering one another support and accountability.
Make it specific .
As previously stated, it can be difficult for youth set and meet goals, especially when it comes to goals of saving or earning money. A specific goal of, “I will save 1 dollar a week from my allowance” or “I will do an extra job around the house each week and save half of my pay” is a resolution with a goal that that is precise and simple to commit to.
Everyone wants to celebrate the victory of success. Think not only about how you will celebrate, but how will you know when you have succeeded. In the goal setting strategy “SMART goals” the “M” stands for measurable. There should be an easy way to measure a specific goal. It may even be helpful to chart success. Kids find charts that are attached to the refrigerator very motivating partly because they are proud of their success and want it to be shared with their family. Adults may just need to use a calendar to monitor their success and ensure themselves that there is progress toward their goals and change is happening.
The beginning of a new year can be a great time for everyone, including youth to make positive behavior changes. Help your child identify those areas where improvements are needed and follow these simple guidelines to improve the odd of being successful.