Why Kids Shouldn’t Have New Year’s Resolutions

December 29, 2015 Published by

child-thinking-aloneNow is a great time to look back on what we have achieved throughout the last year and make a plan for how we want the next year to go. It is also the time that many of us set New Year’s resolutions in an attempt to keep our plans on track.

However we can often make resolutions that we just don’t manage to see through, giving up within the first few weeks of the New Year. You may have seen HSBC’s Museum of Procrastination advert, with a display of gym memberships only used once and instruments that have only ever played Frère Jacques.

One of the reasons New Year’s resolutions are so hard to keep is that we tend to set unrealistic, vague goals – such as losing weight or giving up a bad habit. This is not a good attitude to teach children; the motivation for such goals will be short lived and they may never have the excitement of reaching something they have worked towards. A year is also a very long time, particularly for a child, to remain focused on one goal. That’s not to say that having goals to aim for is a bad thing, they just need to be realistic.


A new kind of New Year’s resolution

You can print off our goal setting template and our guide below to help your child think about which goals to set.

  1. Make a goal to work towards each month, rather than over the year. This creates a little more urgency and keeps the goal current. As you can then decide on a new goal each month, your child can progress throughout the year, building on their achievements of the previous month. You can also break the month down into days/weeks, depending on the goal.
  2. Discuss with your child what goal they want to work towards and then make this into a more specific goal. For example, if they want to do better at Maths, their goal could be to spend 10 minutes practising with a Maths app every day.
  3. There needs to be a way to recognise that the goal has been achieved – in our example, the goal will have been achieved if the child spends 10 minutes every day on the app.
  4. You want the goal to be realistic but not so easy that your child doesn’t feel they have achieved something. 10 minutes a day on a Maths app is achievable, whereas an hour a day may not be. Reaching this small goal every week is much more motivating than trying to work towards a larger goal over the year.
  5. Keep the overall goal in mind and make sure that the month’s target is helping to achieve this. If the aim is to get better in Maths, you could look at whether the child’s marks in class have improved (some apps also record progress).

If your child doesn’t reach their goal that day/week, encourage them to keep going. We all stumble now and again but the overall goal can still be reached if they keep trying.  


If your child doesn’t reach their goal that day/week, encourage them to keep going. We all stumble now and again but the overall goal can still be reached if they keep trying.

At the end of the month, look at whether the goal has been achieved. If it has, give your child a pat on the back! They can then build on their progress in the next month by making the goal slightly harder or focusing on a different area – for instance, now they have managed to spend 10 minutes a day on the Maths app, maybe they can spend 30 minutes a week practising a topic they find particularly difficult.

If they didn’t reach their goal, look at why they didn’t manage it – was it unrealistic? Do they need more support to be able to reach their goal? Adjust the goal for the next month to make it more achievable.

At the end of the year your child will see how a little effort every month can grow into something much larger. Failure isn’t the end – it’s just a hurdle that we all have to get over on the way to achieving our goals! Understanding that it takes time, patience and focus to learn something new or lose a bad habit is an important skill that will benefit your child throughout life.

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This post was written by Anna Taylor

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