Choose the right place, and the right time to set New Year’s resolutions
As with any important conversation, a conducive environment is key in the goal-setting process. Find a relatively quiet space where you can talk freely about New Year’s resolutions without being disturbed.
The right timing is also equally important – both you and your child need to be in an unhurried and relaxed frame of mind to fully reflect on the past year, and give proper thought on plans for the year ahead.
One fun idea is to turn this into an annual one-on-one date with your child that he can look forward to as a yearly tradition. You may want to get all dressed up and visit a restaurant, or keep it simple and enjoy a cup of coffee at your child’s favourite café.
Take a positive tone
Steer the conversation in a positive manner. As parents, there can be a natural inclination to focus on the issues we feel our children need to improve on or ‘fix’.
Fight the urge to point out slip-ups or areas where you feel your child has fallen short. Instead, start the conversation by praising your child for specific areas where they have clearly exhibited effort this year – while they may not have achieved outstanding results by our standards, praising their effort and intent will reinforce the value of hard work. Your child will also be more open to hearing about areas for improvement later on in the conversation.
Take time to reflect
In our fast-paced and hectic society, it’s rare that we set aside time to slow down and reflect on the year that has gone by. Yet, this is a vital exercise to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past and identify the right steps to take in future. Inculcating this art of self-examination will make your child more self-aware and help them identify their own strengths and weaknesses.
Some questions to pose to your child in crafting his New Year’s resolutions:
- What was an area that you feel you did well in, or saw some progress this year?
- What was an area that you found the most challenging?
- What do you think is your best quality?
When setting goals for the New Year, here are some areas you can encourage your child to look at: family, faith, friendships and academics (for older children). Guide them to set one achievable and measurable goal for each important area of life.
For example, a pre-schooler might decide to make friends with the new kid in class, while a teenager might set the goal of attending weekly family dinners despite his busy school schedule.
The number of goals your child commits to, will depend on their age and maturity. Remind them that it is better to focus on a few areas and do those well, rather than set too many goals that overwhelm them.
Making and keeping New Year’s resolutions is an on-going process, rather than a one-time event. For an older child, this is a wonderful opportunity to teach the value of accountability. Guide them by asking how they intend to follow up on each goal, and how frequently you should review them together.
You may also want to find your child a mentor, another trusted adult that they can share their plans with, and who will encourage them in their journey to bettering themselves.
Ultimately, setting New Year’s resolutions with your child is an invaluable experience in connecting with your child and getting a deeper look at their thoughts, dreams and even fears. Using this precious opportunity wisely will certainly strengthen your parent-child bond!
Used with permission from Focus on the Family Singapore. For more information on family life resources and workshops, visit www.family.org.sg.
© 2015 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.