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From the Back Yard Swing Set to the Gym Membership: Resolutions for the Whole Family
New year, new you, new everything. When looking forward to a fresh start this year, don’t forget about including the kids. Without putting too much pressure on yourself or your children, resolutions can be a great way to set healthy goals for the whole family, and stick to them.
So whether you want to get more exercise with a new gym membership or help your kids get more exercise playing on their back yard swing set, here are a few ways to make sure everyone can make–and keep–their resolutions.
Make it a family tradition.
In a season that is marked by annual traditions, self-care and self-improvement are rarely on the list. As your family relishes in the joy of the holidays, try to incorporate time for reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next one. Create a resolution ritual, like a warm cider toast or a family afternoon of hot cocoa. The importance is that the family spends time bonding, and interacting away from distractions like electronic devices.
The conversation should focus on the successes of the year and how they were achieved. From there, the discussion can focus on ways everyone in the family can improve. As a family, make group resolutions like a weekly bike ride, or spending thirty minutes playing in the yard, with the swingset.
A few reasonable, doable, meaningful family resolutions should go into a list and posted in the house, where everyone can see it, like on the fridge. That way, everyone can be reminded of each other’s goals and hopes for the new year.
Be a resolution role model.
“Do as I say, not as I do” can only go so far. In order to positively influence your children to make better, healthier choices, take the lead and show them how it’s done. They’re always watching and learning from everything you do. If the family has set a goal to spend more time reading, settle down in the living room with a book for group quiet reading time. If one of your resolutions is to eat more fruit, offer one to your kids when you reach for your own healthy snack. Not only will this help make parents more accountable for achieving their own personal resolutions, but this will also help inspire the entire family to stick to theirs. When you talk the talk and walk the walk, you also set a good example which is beneficial to everyone.
Focus on the positive.
When thinking about how to improve for the new year, it’s too easy to focus on shortcomings and failures. Instead, keep a positive approach to resolutions. Instead of worrying about how things could have been better, inspire your family to embrace the optimism of a fresh start. Use past successes and achievements to inspire new ones. Try to extend the cheer and happiness of the holidays into the new year. For instance, if your child got the gift of a new back yard swingset for the holidays, perhaps a fun resolution could be for him or her to spend twenty minutes a day outside playing on it. The intrinsic physical benefits of outdoor play are just an added bonus to a fun resolution that should be easy to keep.
Take small steps toward big change.
If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution before, you may know that making small changes can lead to long-term, and more successful results. Rather than say, “I’m going to lose 30 pounds,” it is more helpful to make an action-oriented resolution, like “I will spend 30 minutes a day exercising.” When you focus on the process instead of the result, you slowly but surely develop the self-discipline to reach your goals. This is one of the most effective ways to turn a good intention into a habit. So, for example, if your child’s resolution is to make new friends, help him or her break it down into easy-to-do steps, like sitting with new kids at school, inviting kids from the neighborhood over to use the back yard swingset, or sharing treats with his friends after school.
Recognize the rewards.
Everyone can appreciate the thrill of finally accomplishing a goal that you’ve been working towards. Help your kids stick to their resolutions by acknowledging their progress. When you praise them for their successes, their self-esteem improves and the long term benefits are an integral part of a healthy adulthood. Check in periodically with your kids to see how they’re doing with their resolutions. If you reward them for sticking to it, it can help motivate them to follow through. Rewards can be a fun incentive like more time on the back yard swingset for eating healthy snacks instead of junk food.
The important thing to remember when making resolutions is that no has to go it alone. Help your family be there for each other, lend support, and reach their goals. In the end, everyone will be happy, healthy, and grateful.