"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." - Edith Lovejoy Pierce
You may be excited at a year of opportunity and ready to make resolutions for yourself and your children, but New Year's resolutions really don't work all that well for tweens. The idea of doing something for a whole, entire year sounds really, really tough. (C'mon, grownups, you know think it's hard, too.) In addition, New Year's resolutions usually focus on the negative and focus on something "bad"about themselves, which just makes tweens defensive. And even if your tween was open to resolutions, the chances of success are minimal, at any age.
Instead, seize the opportunity to make the most of the New Year take the tack of looking back on the past year and applying the lessons learned to the year ahead. Doing so is simple, and you can do it in a way that focuses on the positive, both in terms of the good that happened in the last year and setting high expectations for the good to come in 2013. Positive reinforcement is so important with tweens and thinking positively about the new year is so much more fun and productive than focusing on the negative.
New Year's Day is a chance to talk with your tween about what they are doing right, and how they can do even more of that in the year to come.
Guide the conversation with the following questions:
1. What moments in 2012 were you most proud of yourself in 2012? 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. Don't overwhelm your tween, though. You don't want them to shut down before you even get started.
1 a). Were those moments of pride preceded by hard work?
2. What moments were you happiest in 2012? Hopefully there is somewhat of a correlation between the questions, and your tween will see that.
3. What did you learn about yourself in 2012?
4. How can you use those new-found skills and/or traits in 2013?
5. What could you do in 2013 that would make you both happy and proud of yourself?
6. How can I help?
Have some of your own proud parenting moments in mind from 2012 and share them with your child(ren). Focus on your child's effort, and not the result. One example is being proud of how hard your child worked on their homework and how happy you were to see him/her focus on studying, instead of just getting an A on the report card. Tell them how much you are looking forward to seeing them work hard in the coming year. Encourage them to dream big. Let them know you are there to support them. You won't do the hard work for them, but you'll be their biggest cheerleader.
May 2013 bring many proud, happy moments for both you and your child(ren). Wishing you all the best in this exciting new year!
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