It is the third week in January and 64% of those who made New Year’s resolutions have already thrown in the towel. This is just one reason why we don’t encourage our kids to make New Year’s resolutions.
Now – don’t get me wrong. We are a family versed in the “self improvement” lingo. My husband spends much of his days coaching executives to be a better version of themselves and we have brought our kids up with the notion that anything is possible for them. Self improvement, or at least awareness, is continually and consistently a conversation at our dinner table.
But we don’t encourage our kids to make New Year’s resolutions and here is why.
The word “RESOLUTION” can be too big for our teens
Have you ever asked a teen what they want to do with their life? Most will look at you with a blank stare. Let’s be real. Teens have ALL the dreams and NO dreams all at the same time. And you know what? That is all kinds of normal. If you have a teen that reacts this way to questions about the future, my experience has been that you get a similar look when you talk about resolutions. Resolutions feel too huge to ponder. They have barely started their life and suddenly we are bombarding them with self improvement jargon that gives them the heebie jeebies.
Instead, in our house we are talking to our teens about what they can do to be “More Awesome than Last Year.” This takes the pressure off of that overwhelming FUTURE sign that is quickly barreling towards them, and lets them focus on one step at a time.
Resolutions are a statement without action.
Stating your goals and intentions for the year is a great thing to do – but it is the small steps to achieving that goal that is the important part. As adults we struggle with making things happen, so it makes sense that our teens need even smaller “bites” in order to achieve their dreams.
Breaking down their “resolutions” – A.K.A goals, dreams, ambitions, targets – is our (and I say our, but it really is my husband’s) specialty. He encourages our teens to set achievable goals and to think of the little ways they are going to make them happen.
Do they want to make new friends? What is one little thing you are going to do THIS WEEK, THIS DAY to help make that happen? Are you going to smile more? Are you going to commit to talking to one new person a week? Are you going to join a club? How are you going to remind yourself of your commitment? What does this time next year look like? What needs to change to make this happen for you?
Resolutions forget about the process
Making a resolution stick is tough. “Why set your teen up for failure?” is what I always say. Putting a goal out there is great. HOW then do you make it happen? Each child is different.
Our daughter is super visual – and she is also very goal oriented. She creates a “vision” board of sorts that is on the wall in her bathroom. Yup, in the bathroom. Weird – but it works for her because every morning and every evening when brushing her teeth – she takes a look at those goals and she is reminded of what she wants to accomplish.
Does she always achieve the goals on her board? No. But she has started a habit, at an early age that will help her with reaching her dreams for the future.
Sometimes, even planning out the vision board helps teens with clarity, and intention. They are focused on the small stuff now, but these are great skills for the big stuff later 🙂
Resolutions are just the WHAT and not the WHY
You must begin to think of yourself as becoming the person you want to beDavid Viscott
In our house, we try and talk to our teens about the WHY to their goals. Making new friends is awesome, if your end goal is to try and find your tribe, connect with like minded individuals, or feel a sense of belonging in a large, sometimes impersonal world. In addition, talking about the why can also help us understand their world a little clearer. With understanding comes compassion.
Having conversations about the “why” also helps our teens process their goals more thoughtfully. Do they want to have more friends to be popular, or are they actually feeling like they don’t belong or fit in their space? Do they feel like they have to be someone else in order to make friends? Are these the kinds of friends they want in the end? How do you find people with shared values that accept you?
Just talking through some of these things with your teen (whatever their goals for the year are) helps with determining their intention.
For OUR family, just because we don’t encourage our kids to make new years resolutions, doesn’t mean we don’t encourage them to set goals for the year.
At our family dinner table early in the new year, our question to the kids was not around their personal goals and dreams for their lives. It was not about “what they were striving to BE or to DO with their lives.” It was not about them figuring out jobs, degrees, or pathways for the future. It was about something far more simple. It was this:
What are you going to do this year, that will make you a better person NEXT YEAR.
We sent them away to think about it. And I’m sending you on your way to think about it too. Even though we all have personal goals and dreams – What are you going to do this year that will make you a better person next year?
In the words of Babe from Grace and Frankie, ” Get crackin Toots!”
AND if you need more parenting comfort (we are all in this together) check out our post on our teens growing up HERE.