2019 has been an incredible and busy year at the Otter Learning organization, with preschools in Orlando, FL and Knoxville, TN. Now it’s time to get off to the right start in 2020 – A NEW DECADE! It’s time to think about what the New Year brings us: new beginnings, opportunities and resolutions. If you typically start the New Year fresh by making resolutions, consider getting your children in on the tradition this year. Not only can it be a valuable teaching moment about setting goals and sticking to them, but setting goals is an important part of your child’s early development. Making commitments teaches children how to be responsible and creating resolutions together can be a great way to start good habits while developing communication and decision-making skills from a young age.
Even preschoolers can learn and grow from making their own New Year resolutions. With the rise in childhood obesity, continued parental complaints about discipline and behavior problems, some New Year's Resolutions to be healthy might be a good idea. It’s never too early to start teaching your preschoolers how to accomplish a goal, no matter how small! Not only will resolutions help your preschooler understand responsibility and organization, but it can be fun for a family to map out their resolutions for the New Year together.
Try sitting down with your child and talking to them about how New Year can be an exciting time for growth and change. Letting your child come up with their own ideas is an opportunity for family bonding in a fun and exciting way. "Parents can start by explaining what a resolution is and give examples of ones they have set in past years," says Dr. Kristen Eastman, PsyD, a pediatric clinical psychologist at Cleveland Children's Hospital. "Asking your children for ideas and helping them evaluate the options together is really important." Just keep in mind that resolutions should always be discussed in a positive way with children: for example, saying "I'm going to do this..." instead of "I'm going to STOP doing this..."
"You don't want your child to feel like something in wrong with them now," Dr. Eastman explains. "Rather, frame the conversation as 'something that could be better if we did this.'"
Also, take care to help your child pick a resolution that is both achievable and specific. If your child suggests well-intentioned but vague ideas like "Be a better friend" or "Be healthier," try to help her filter those ideas into tangible actions that can be done every day, either by herself or together as a family: "Help a friend with math homework before every test" or "Spend 30 minutes outside each day."
New Year’s Resolution Ideas for Preschoolers
Cleaning up toys after they are done being used
Washing hands after going to the bathroom and before eating
Eating all food on the lunch/dinner plate
Brushing teeth twice a day
Drinking two glasses of milk each day instead of soda or juice
Joining a soccer team or going to yoga class with Mom on Saturdays
Reading for 30 minutes before bed instead of watching TV
Setting the table for dinner every night
Shortening showers to only five minutes to conserve water
Learning how to make chocolate chip cookies or how to sing
Bonus: Resolutions for School-Age Children
Drinking milk and water instead of soda and fruit drinks
Applying sunscreen before going outdoors or wearing a hat and sunglasses, especially when playing sports
Finding a sport (like baseball or soccer) or an activity (like jumping rope, jump rope or riding my bike) that is enjoyable and doing it at least two / three times a week!
Always wear a helmet while riding a bike
Always wearing a seat belt in a car and / or using a booster seat until tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat-belt
Being friendly to kids who need friends — like someone who is shy or is new at school
Never give out personal information such as my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet
While these may not seem like the resolutions we are used to making as adults, it is important for children to understand the importance of chores and tasks that will ultimately help them grow. The earlier that a child starts learning, the better chance those good habits will stick.
The more difficult task may be getting your child to practice their “resolutions” for the entire year. By explaining to them the purpose of the goal, and how it helps the family or the household around them, your child may begin to grasp the importance of making the routine daily. If all else fails, think about creating a reward system for when your child accomplishes their resolutions!
When it comes to resolutions, it's important for parents to lead by example. In other words, your child is more likely to accomplish her resolution if she sees you sticking to your own goal (which we know can be tough!). And don't be afraid to adjust your goals along the way if they're becoming stale or you complete the goal / accomplishment. There's value in teaching kids to follow through on a goal long-term, even if they need to tweak it along the way.