Five tips to successful New Year’s resolutions for kids

January 1, 2017 Published by

(Updated for 2020)


New year, new me! For the first week, anyway.

Then the bad habits begin creeping back in, or the new hobbies and skills get forgotten about.

New Year’s resolutions are notoriously easy to forget about after the fog of the festive period has lifted. We can also be guilty of setting unrealistic goals and simply lacking that motivation to keep going with it. 


Family resolutions

This is even harder for children because it takes a lot of focus and perseverance, even when you’re not seeing much progress. But self-improvement is a really good skill to encourage and one that will help your kids throughout life.

You can make the most of the fresh start and make family resolutions that everyone can commit to.

Involve the kids and try to make your New Year’s resolutions fun – keep a family journal that you all contribute to in order to improve communication or exercise as a family.


Five tips to get you started

New Year resolutions aren’t for every family, but if you’d like to have a go this year, here are five tips to get you started:

  1. Resolutions are more likely to be met if they come from the child themselves, so see what they can think of! It will help to talk through their ideas to come up with one achievable goal.
  2. Make a whole family resolution – for example, everyone could aim to eat vegetables at dinner time, do ten minutes of exercise each day, or limit themselves to a certain amount of screen time.
  3. Keep each other in check – It’s harder to forget if someone’s giving you a nudge now and then – and your kids will love reminding you not to have that extra biscuit with your tea.
  4. Lead by example – set your own goal (or make a resolution for each other) to aim for, but own up if you struggle. It’s good for your child to see how you deal with your own hurdles along the way, so they can learn to cope with their own.
  5. Use S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based) to help keep everyone motivated:


“I think it’s always nice for kids to come up with their own New Year’s resolution, but they often struggle with this. Instead, you could suggest thinking of a resolution for each other – but be prepared for your son or daughter to tell you to get off your tech!”  –  Dr Amanda Gummer



How to make S.M.A.R.T. goals


Example of new year resolutions for kids through SMART objectives

It’s always great when kids think big, but helping to break these goals down into something achievable will make it easier to stay focused and really build their confidence.

  • 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.
  • 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 a certain amount of time practising with a Maths app every day.
  • 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.
  • You want the goal to be realistic, but not so easy that your child doesn’t feel they have achieved something. Ten 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.
  • 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.



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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