Now that the bustle of the holidays has slowed down, there’s a different kind of commotion your child might be noticing in the home.
It’s you, practicing your New Year resolution.
If you chose to set goals for the new year, be sure to announce these intentions aloud with your family so they are aware of the changes you will be making in your daily routine. It’s great that you make these decisions to better yourself, but children are very intuitive, and they will likely sense something is new. This is a great opportunity to discuss with your child why we set goals and resolutions for ourselves as we begin a new year and always.
The New Year is a time for growth, change and newness. It’s literally a deep breath that we allow ourselves to take, and because young children revel so much in routine and task, they are absolutely capable of understanding your own intentions, if not practicing a new resolution in the home as well.
Embrace this strength within your child, and allow them to grow with you. Discuss with them why you’ve set new goals for yourself, and encourage them to think on these things, too. If you’ve resolved to eat healthier, explain to your child that your family meals will include foods that make our brains and bodies stronger, and how great it feels to enjoy a healthy meal.
Most importantly, avoid negative words when discussing your resolutions. Instead of saying, “I’m going to stop watching TV in the evening,” say to your child, “I’ve chosen to read more books in the evening.” Instead of, “I’m not going to eat dessert before bed anymore,” say to your child, “I’m going to drink a cold glass of water or warm cup of milk before bed each night.”
This keeps your child focused on your positive actions as opposed to wanting the habit you are trying to eliminate. And trust that your child will notice if you falter, so these family conversations instill accountability among you all as well.
Aside from your own resolutions, encourage your child to make small changes for themselves as well. Perhaps they are going to help around the house more, like put their dishes away or make their own bed. Maybe they are going to pick out their own outfits each morning and put their own laundry away at night. Assure them that as they grow, they are more and more capable of responsibility, and you fully trust their competence.
It’s also effective to point out your child’s successes over the past year. For example, I would say to my son, “Remember when you were potty trained last year? We were so proud of you, because you worked hard and were patient and persistent.” And then I would go on with how he maintained this big change in life. “We see that you still get up in the middle of the night if you need to use the bathroom. You are a big boy who takes good care of himself, just like we take care of our bodies, too.”
Setting an example reminds your child that are able to accept change, no matter how big or small and whether for the family or themselves.
If your new year resolution involves significant change, your child is capable of handling this so long as ample communication is in place. As you take a deep breath and begin anew, allow your child the space to do the same, and revel in this newness together, as a family.
About the Author
Angela Tewalt is a writer, storyteller and mother to two boys. She shares parenting stories and inspiration in Guidepost Parent.
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