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People tend to think of each New Year as a fresh start to do better things than they have done in the past. This tends to make us a bit overly ambitious in terms of what we think we can accomplish in the coming year. When we fail at reaching this goal, we get discouraged. What can we do about this?
As a parent, you can vow not to make any unrealistic resolution that you think you will not be able to keep. Teach your kids to do the same. Just for this year, be practical. Help kids to think of some realistic, reachable goals they are sure to achieve, so that they will feel they are accomplishing something.
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How You Can Help Your Child
Here are a few suggestions to help your kids make realistic resolutions at school or at home.
- Have a broad goal for the year and set smaller goals to reach over shorter periods. For example, a student could say, “I will make a higher grade in Math this year than I did last year" rather than, “Make all A’s." The latter pressures them to perform, perhaps beyond their ability level. By taking things a little at a time, they will slowly start to see improvements in their schoolwork.
- Kids and parents should help kids consider their own unique abilities when setting new career or educational goals. If a child loves gaming and wants to be a computer game designer, he could have a goal to learn some simple programming or download some gaming software that teaches these skills and allows them to create a simple game
- Go slowly at first. It is better to gain an inch than to lose a mile. Starting slow can help you can gain more ground, one step at a time than you can by attempting to accomplish too much, too fast. Have kids think about changing one behavior at a time.
- Have kids write down their goals for the new year and tell others what they hope to accomplish. There is something about writing down a goal and sharing it with others that helps us stay on task.
- Kids should learn the importance of making realistic goals for the future at an early age, and making New Year’s resolutions is one way they can practice this. As a parent, you can help by guiding them to make more realistic short-term goals and to teach them not to worry when they fall short.
Another way you can help is by modeling the behaviors you wish them to emulate. As you make your new resolutions this year, learn to rethink the way you establish your goals. It is important to make a broad, long-range goal, but also make several shorter goals that will be milestones of the larger task.
Little by little, you will break it down into sections you can handle, and you will find, to your delight, that you do keep a few New Year’s resolutions after all! Your kids will learn the habit of productive, realistic goal setting for life.