New takes on New Year's resolutions: 4 ways to help you and your kids make the most of the year ahead

New takes on New Year's resolutions: 4 ways to help you and your kids make the most of the year ahead

"That New Year's resolution really changed my life!" said no tween or teen, ever. New Year's resolutions are tricky for adults, and even harder for kids. They are rarely successful, and that's certainly true for most of the kids I know.

That doesn't mean, however, that I think we should throw in the towel on either a contemplative examination of the past year or making hopeful plans for self-improvement in the coming year, for ourselves or with our kids. I'm a big fan of both, at any age. I just think that there are ways to do those things with kids that achieve more success.

Here are 4 approaches to New Year's resolutions for you and your kids.

1. Positive Reinforcement

Have a chat with your child about what has gone right in the past year and how you can encourage more such behavior. Resolutions often focus on negative behavior, but here are some questions to guide a conversation about what went right, keeping the focus on the positive:

* Over the past year, when were you most proud of yourself?  When I asked my tween that question, she asked if she could separate it out between school and outside of school.  By all means, break this down into whatever categories you like.

* What moments were you happiest in the past year?

* Did you surprise yourself or learn anything about your in this past year?

* How can you use those new-found skills and/or traits in the new year?

* What could you do in 2014 that would make you both happy and proud of yourself?

* How can I help you do more of those actions that make  you happy/proud?

2. Pick a word

Narrow in on one specific word that describes what you want to be and make it a theme for the year. You could do it as a family, or have each individual pick a word or hey, why not both?  I've heard a family doing it where the words selected included "consistent," "healthy," and "focused."  I first heard of the idea from Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project, who explains a bit about it here.

There's a website dedicated to this idea called "My One Word." The website explains, "My One Word replaces broken promises with a vision for real change. When you choose a single word, you have a clarity and focus. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past." It offers steps for selecting and implementing your word. It is religious, which could be right up your alley but I think the info is helpful even if you are not religious.

3. Family Performance Review

This may sound a bit extreme, and I am always nervous when receiving a review as an employee, but there's a reason employers conduct performance reviews - they can be helpful and offer guidance in the coming year. I think that doing them as a family can help tweens and teens realize that, contrary to the often popular belief, it is not just all about them AND they are, in fact, part of a family unit. You can read my thoughts (and fears about what my family may include in my performance review) as well as instructions on how to conduct a review that doesn't feel like going to the dentist here.

4. Stick to the basics and set some goals

Goals are good and if you want to set them and have your kids do the same as we embark on a new year, go for it. Here are ways to make your New Year's goals stick, or to help your kids achieve their goals.

However you go about it, I hope that you and your family enter into the new year with hope and purpose and excitement. May it be your best year yet!

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE9 New Year's quotes for an inspiring start to 2015

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Filed under: Parenting

Tags: new year's resolutions

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