Should Your Children Make Resolutions?


After my last blog post, I was curious what the most popular New Year’s resolutions were.  Luckily with the help of my friend Google and lovely folks at Statistics Brain I did not have to wait very long.

The top ten New Year’s resolutions for 2014 are:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Getting Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to Its Fullest
  5. Staying Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family

The list made me quickly realize that I am not a special snowflake after all.

Seven of my ten my resolutions appear on the top ten list.  I don’t smoke, and apparently I don’t feel any need to learn something exciting or to enjoy life to its fullest.   Hmm, poor me.

About six and ten Americans will make resolutions, and of those just over half will have some kind of success which means about half will fail.  (See?  Math is useful despite my 15 year old daughter’s insistence otherwise.)

With statistics like that, it might seem like resolutions aren’t all that helpful.  Oh but wait, they are.

Sure, it’s a fifty-fifty chance you’ll stick with it, but people who make explicit resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who do not make explicit resolutions.

Suddenly resolutions seem like a pretty good idea.

I then started to think about how cool it would be to help my kids make New Year’s Resolutions.  Then I remembered that I have teenagers, and I laughed at myself.

Christine Carter, PhD., the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, suggests that between the ages of 7 and 12 is the ideal time to talk about resolutions.  Carter writes, “they’re still young enough that their habits are not firm, [but] They’re old enough to think about what a New Year’s resolution is and to make their own — yet parents can still help guide them. They’re not going to get the same backlash as from a teenager.”

Told you so.

Jeanne Strausberg gives six suggestions to help your kids make New Year’s Resolutions and they are:

  1. Focus on the positive.
  2. Take baby steps toward a big goal.
  3. Make suggestions, but let your child choose.
  4. Make goals together.
  5. Set the example.
  6. Display your resolutions.

Seems like a good set of suggestions to get your child thinking about goal setting and making plans to reach his or her goals whether for the New Year, the school year or the gymnastics year. Whether for your children or for yourself remember the powerful statistic: explicit resolutions mean you are 10 times more likely to reach your goal.

Did any of your children make New Year’s Resolutions?