It is a new year!  Here are some ideas for family resolutions from Melanie Wilkins.

With the start of a new year, many of us make resolutions to improve ourselves as adults. We plan to diet or exercise, or clean those closets we’ve been meaning to organize. But we aren’t the only ones who can benefit from New Year’s resolutions. Children of all ages can learn about self discipline and setting goals, including ways to better care for the people around us.

The great way to teach children about resolutions is to do it together as a family. Start a family tradition of sitting down together in early January to talk about ways to improve both as individuals and as a family unit. Talk about what worked in the past year and what didn’t. Dr. Benjamin Siegel, professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, suggests something like: “Each one of us is going to state a few things that we want to continue to do and things we’d like to change that would make us feel better about ourselves and how our family works.”

It will help if parents go first in sharing to set an example. You might even consider writing down everyone’s ideas on a poster board or dry erase board using pictures and words to help young children better understand. Resolutions for the whole family might include things like visiting an elderly relative once a month, inviting the new neighbors over for a play date, or creating family game night every other Saturday. Be sure your resolutions are specific (so you can follow through and actually do them) and realistic for your family.

Once the family decides on a plan for the new year, hang your list in a place where everyone will see it like a bulletin board or the refrigerator. Revisit your list once a month and talk about how you are doing on meeting these goals. Let this be a time of encouragement and praise for young children in particular. If you’ve not met a goal, remember that this list is meant as a guide and is not set in stone.