New Year's resolutions give a perfect opportunity for you and your child to discuss areas in which there's room for improvement — so don't miss out! Here are some ideas on how to take advantage of those January 1st declarations.
The sentiment of starting the year anew could be lost on younger kids, so introduce the concept of resolutions to upper elementary-age children (say grades 3 and up). Simply stating your own pledge can open up a rich conversation. Be prepared to discuss, discuss, discuss! More curious kids can go online to explore how the traditions of making resolutions came to be.
The next step, of course, is asking your child if he has any ideas for a resolution of his own. Encourage him by challenging the rest of the family to come up with similar resolutions. For example, if your child wants to improve his reading skills, invite everyone else to come up with one reading-related resolution. You can even put your child in charge of collecting each family member's resolution and making a poster chart of them. Promote one of these for a happy, healthy, learning-filled year:
I resolve to . . .
- Be more organized. Your child can make the most of his time by making sure he knows how to take notes, organize his work, and schedule his life with a planner. Once the clutter is vanquished, homework and studying will be simpler — and he'll have more time for fun.
- Break a bad habit. Poor posture, biting your nails, too much TV: all are great candidates for kick-the-habit New Year's resolutions. Quitting can be tough, but with encouragement your child can learn about determination and willpower — qualities that are valuable for years to come.
- Cut down on soda. Ring in the New Year by making sugary, caffeinated drinks a treat, not an all-the-time beverage. After 2 p.m., implement a "decaf only" rule so your child isn't wide awake at bedtime. Substituting other liquids (such as water, milk, or juice) at dinner will have a calming effect and make it easier to sit down and concentrate on homework in the evening.
- Eat healthier foods. Encourage your child to get balanced when it comes to eating. Not only will this resolution help your child's body, but there are benefits for his brain too! And while switching from sugary snacks to nutritional noshes can be a difficult transition for kids, it doesn't mean treats have to go away completely or forever. Try using the term "cutting back" instead of "giving up" — it'll make the task less daunting.
- Get a good night's sleep. Snoozing for at least eight hours per night can increase energy and boost concentration. Encourage reading in the evening, instead of stimulating activities such as TV, Web-surfing, or video games.
- Improve academic habits. While it's honorably ambitious to declare "I want to get all A’s," your child might feel crushed if she doesn't make the grade on her first test. Instead, suggest that she aim to change her study habits, starting with creating a kid-friendly workspace. Try to be involved in her homework routine — listen to the frustrations she might have with a certain subject, and work together to find a solution. Once she feels more confident in her abilities, higher grades will follow.
- Move my body. Exercise is important for a healthy heart and brain, so make sure your child spends time each afternoon working up a sweat. Even if your child isn't involved in organized sports, you can still feel the burn with a daily walk together or a fun game (think Dance Dance Revolution).
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