Starting the New Year Off Right

By Janet McPeek, Ph.D.
President of Crossroads for Youth

Now that we are a couple of months into 2013, how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? If you’re like many people, your determination to make major changes in your life may be fading just a bit.

Most of the time, adults make resolutions to fix what we don’t like and to start doing things that we haven’t been doing. Some of the most popular resolutions include losing weight, exercising regularly or not procrastinating.

Children and teens also tend to participate in the annual tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.  They may resolve to keep their room cleaner, turn in homework assignments on time or limit the time they spend watching television. While making resolutions can help kids learn about the importance of self-discipline and setting goals, there is another way that children and families can benefit from New Year’s resolutions.

Instead of focusing on doing something you haven’t been doing, why not look back at the things that have gone well for you over the past year? Think about the activities, events and occasions that made you happy. These are the special moments you should replicate in the new year.

Parents can make a commitment to do more of the things their children enjoy. Place an emphasis on what has been working well for your family and resolve to continue doing it throughout 2013. Maybe you had a great family vacation or you spent quality time with your daughter when you drove her to dance class. Perhaps you are proud of how you handled a particular parenting situation or proud of how your child handled a challenge at school.  Determine how you can intentionally build more of these positive experiences into the new year. These types of resolutions are much more likely to get followed throughout the year, because you already have a proven track record of success.