Parents

Helping Children Set Goals for the New Year

01/01/2017 02:31pm ET | Updated January 9, 2017

For adults, the arrival of a new year is accompanied by a series of resolutions reflecting our responsibilities and regrets. Framed as a hopeful list of things we hope to accomplish in the upcoming months, resolutions very well may end up making us feel overburdened and unaccomplished.

One of the best things about being a child is not having to perpetually live up to self-imposed resolutions. Rather, children exist within an established framework of goals with benchmarks – and rewards – along the way.

This year, I challenge you to work with your children to establish goals that allow you and your family to achieve greatness and act as resolution role models for each other and your community. Here’s what your 2017 goals could look like:

A goal for personal success. Many of us, including children, have issues we’re working to overcome or new accomplishments we would like to achieve. If your goal requires a behavioral change, you need to have an actionable plan.

For example, if you’re working towards losing weight, in most cases simply joining a gym is not going to make a significant change. Having a plan – consisting of meal choices, time scheduled for working out and grocery shopping, and being prepared to resist temptations – will help you work toward measurable result.

In this respect, children and adults are very similar: smaller accomplishments make the larger goal easier to achieve. Once you identify your child’s personal goal, break the process of reaching it down in to clear steps and manageable tasks. Remind your child – and yourself – that every day is a new opportunity for success.

A goal for educational (or work) success. For children, school is their job, and it should be treated as such. Some children excel in every area of academics, and others will have more than one to improve in. Review the past year of accomplishments and struggles with your child.

Discuss what subjects they’re most interested in and have them think about what they’d like to learn more about. For areas of improvement, help your child map out a plan, and don’t be afraid to enlist the help of their teacher. Spend time honestly reflecting on where improvements can be made, including in your own routine at home.

Does your child have sufficient time to study, and an appropriate location, free from distraction? Like personal goals, start small and work toward making big improvements.

A goal to help your community. All of us benefit from looking beyond ourselves to help others around us. Even during times of great personal difficulty, giving back to the community can do wonders for self-esteem and self-worth.

I discussed the importance of teaching children empathy and generosity in my post Sharing the Spirit Of #GivingTuesday With Young People. For the upcoming year, think of a task you can undertake immediately – like a penny or book drive, and plan for monthly or quarterly volunteer activities that interest your family.

What are your family goals for the New Year? What does being a resolution role model mean to you? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!