How to Keep New Year’s Resolutions Family Style

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January is almost here; that time of year when we take a step back, a deep breath after all the holiday hub-bub, and ponder. What did I accomplish in 2012? What things do I want to achieve in 2013? And the New Year’s resolutions list begins; yet by January 20th, 80% of our good intentions are dropped, and 92% of our resolutions are not kept at all. It seems the only resolution we keep is to make New Year’s resolutions every January! Why is that? We want to stop bad habits, we want to improve ourselves, and we want to do it by the end of the year! Here’s what I think……

Accountability – the key to success
Think about it – when we make resolutions, we usually make them for ourselves, by ourselves. We are not held accountable, as most often our resolutions are not shared, and if they are, they are forgotten, even our own, as soon as our list is tucked away. Accountability is key, and who better to keep you accountable than your family, kids included? It’s never too early to learn about the importance of commitment, reaching goals, and the satisfaction of achievement. As a matter of fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics created a list of healthy resolutions, starting as young as preschool age.

A family that plans together; stands together
To make this new tradition of family declarations a success, the kids, depending on their age, will need daily or weekly reminders of their pledges, and at a 92% failure rate, it looks like we do, too!
Sit together as a family and talk about the things each of you would like to start, accomplish, or change personally in the New Year. Maybe mom wants to lose 20 pounds by summer, dad wants to improve his tennis game, your five year old might strive to brush his/her teeth twice a day, your teen might want to save to buy a car this year. Keep the lists short, specific, and realistic; otherwise you will all be overwhelmed, frustrated, and lose interest.

Set up a weekly or monthly rewards system for each goal. This will help to keep everyone motivated; yes, you, too! Mom might get a latte after losing five pounds, dad might get that Wilson tennis racquet he’s been wanting after he wins five games in a row, your five year old gets extra TV time for reaching his teeth brushing goal every day for a week, and your teen might get what every teen wants – money – after saving 10% of his income for his car.

15 Resolution ideas for kids
Make it fun and easy and don’t list too many. Mix it up with daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
1- I want to learn to ride a two wheeler by ___
2- I want to read better by ___
3- I will brush my teeth after breakfast and before bed every day
4- I will not tease the dog/my sister
5- I will walk the dog every day after school
6- I will go to bed when I’m told without a fuss
7- I will not watch TV or play video games until all my homework is finished
8- I will taste 1 new veggie a week
9- I will not talk to strangers online or in person
10- I will say please and thank you
11- We will eat dinner together as a family every night
12- I will keep my room clean
13- I will not text and drive
14- I will help mom make dinner
15- I will use kind words with everyone

How to stay on track
Once everyone is in agreement, create weekly charts listing each task with a place to check it off when it is completed, and then post them on the refrigerator or family bulletin board so everyone can track his/her progress. If you are more of a techy family, check out Goal for it [dot] com. Here you can create colorful, customized charts for each member of the family and make it easy for everyone to track his/her progress online; you will be able to print the charts at the end of the week to discuss as a family. This site will also help you set up a rewards tracking program kids can understand and enjoy. Doesn’t get much easier than that!

At the end of each week, discuss triumphs and/or defeats as a family over dinner; celebrate the wins, and offer support and tweaking where needed. The key is to hold each other accountable as a family. The bonus will be the togetherness this practice will foster and the satisfaction of being one of the 8% that actually holds true to his/her resolutions. Yay you!

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