Setting Kids Up for Successful New Year’s Resolutions

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New Year’s is a fun time to congratulate what our kids have accomplished this year at home through their chores, or at school, or in the field, and also help them get excited to take on new big goals. Whether creative, athletic, or intellectual, goals help our kids grow to effective, happy adults. Sticking to the very useful S-M-A-R-T model ensures they’ll have a better chance at reaching their goal. 

#1. BE SPECIFIC. The clearer the better. The more focused the efforts and laser targeted the resolutions are, the higher likelihood for success. Help your kids narrow down a specific goal, even if short term. Start with a list of 10 fun things they might see themselves doing in 2020. Then order them according to the time of year most likely to get done.

Finally, have them pick the top 3 tasks they think they SHOULD do along with the top 3 they are EXCITED to do. Encourage them to pick from the ‘excited list over the ‘should list’. This will help them find their voice, value their opinion and stay engaged. Then, if you’re on S’moresUp, organize these into their 2020 chores.

#2. CREATE MEASURABLE LIMITS. Without a measurable endpoint, our kids don’t know when they’ve completed the challenge (this is very familiar to the families I work with on my app, who use S’ mores as rewards). The mind likes to know when to celebrate, when to internalize the “win” as part of their forming identity. Their goal has to have a very clear deadline.

Short term goals help kids associate trying with rewards, keeping them engaged and excited. Long term goals have the added benefit of helping kids set up benchmarks and “build resilience and cope with setbacks”.

Help kids stay motivated by encouraging them to “track their goals;” To revisit their goals and remind the mind to focus on them by rewriting the goal.

#3. STICK TO ACHIEVABLE THINGS. Our mind feels rewarded when we hit our goals. Tiny wins build the momentum of big wins. We want our kids to set achievable goals and know when they are winning. We want them to dream big while building confidence and muscle memory through consistent good habits that yield little rewards.

As they get clear about their big goals, help them set smaller benchmarks easier to consistently achieve. Remind them that they are loved no matter the outcome and that staying the course achieving the little wins is more important than the overall outcome of the big reach goal.

#4. STAY RELEVANT. Help your kids pick something they actually want to do, not something YouTube or their peers say they should do. They are more likely to stick to goals they’re genuinely interested in and can build pride around finishing. The goals they choose should be in alignment with the overall person they are trying to become.

Examples include 

  • Practicing their dance routine every day for 2 weeks leading up to an audition

  • Reading a new book per month 

  • Shooting 100 free throws a day 5 days/week before screen time

  • Submitting a poem to a local paper within 2 weeks  

 Whatever lights them up, make sure it’s very specific and they know what they are aiming for.

#5. BE TIMELY. Timing matters, particularly with growing and always-changing kids! Direct your kids to pick goals that matter to them NOW. They will grow and change and some things won’t be relevant anymore in 3, 4, 5 years. For example, that favorite song they’re trying to learn on the guitar is a hallmark of this point in their life and will motivate them the most right now but may not be relevant in 5 years.

Priya Rajendran  is a developer and “Silicon Valley tech mom” who’s created S’moresUp an innovative iPhone and Android solution to the problems of managing family’s day to day life, with over 100,000 moms and dads already on board.  She’s a technology veteran who lead the team behind Paypal's Wallet.


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