This is the time of year when many adults will start putting together a list of resolutions for the New Year, but is it cool for kids to set some goals for 2014, too?
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Kate Eshelman, PsyD, a child psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health, says it is.
“It’s always a good idea to start health habits and healthy behaviors, no matter your age,” says Dr. Eshelman. “And there is no time like New Year’s to do it. If kids are interested in engaging in resolutions or if families want to start them together, it can be a great idea.”
Follow the same “adult” rules
When you sit down with your child to establish goals, many of the “adult” rules for resolutions apply to kids as well, says Dr. Eshleman. The goals should be challenging and very specific, but also achievable.
Example: Rather than a general goal such as “I will study more often,” encourage your child to commit to a specific behavior, such as “I will study an extra 10 minutes every night.” Dr. Eshleman says these types of resolutions are also very measurable because your child knows whether or not he or she spent their 10 minutes studying.
How to set goals
If your child isn’t sure which resolutions to try, Dr. Eshleman says it’s OK to help them make a decision. Have your child ask herself or himself this question: “Are there things in my life that could be better?” Dr. Eshleman says the answer is usually a good place to start.
There is also strength in numbers. Setting a goal for the entire family is a great idea, Dr. Eshleman says.
“I think it depends very much on the family and what they’re into,” says Dr. Eshleman. “Is it time to get more active, is it time to donate some things, is it time to get more involved in the community?”