Setting SMART New Year's Resolutions for Kids

The New Year is almost here, which means it's time to start thinking about resolutions for the whole family. When it comes to children, achieving goals (or resolutions) can play a critical role in developing healthy self-esteem and confidence.

But achieving a goal isn't simply a matter of hard work and determination; it starts with the goal-setting process itself. Try using the SMART method to help your kids successfully fulfill their resolutions.

S = Specific

Let's say your kid wants to get better grades this year. While that's a great goal to aim for—it's very broad and open to interpretation—make this goal more specific by narrowing it down to certain subjects.

For instance, if your child struggles in math and science, they can focus on improving in those areas. Narrowing in on specific subjects will help keep your child from getting overwhelmed.

M = Motivating

Is your child excited or interested in accomplishing this goal? If not, their work rate will reflect that. If your child doesn't enjoy math or science, try relating the goal to something that interests them.

For example, if your child's dream is to become a professional athlete, make sure they understand the importance of performing well enough in school to be eligible for a college scholarship. Accomplishing any goal is easier when you have the proper motivation.

A = Attainable

Being unrealistic with your child's resolution can be a recipe for disappointment. You don't want your child to get overwhelmed because they feel like their resolution is impossible to achieve, so make sure the goal is attainable.

Using the math and science example, if the child currently has a D in each class, asking them to bring home A+'s at the end of the year is setting them up for failure. A more attainable goal would be to raise each subject to a passing grade.

R = Relevant

Is this goal going to help your child's growth and development, or is it relatively pointless? Resolving to eat the three-pounder from your local burger joint is all good and fun, but it's not accomplishing anything meaningful.

Make sure your child is taking this opportunity to really accomplish something.

T = Trackable

Make sure the progress of your child's resolution can be measured. Seeing evidence of progress as they work towards their goal will only give them more confidence. Conversely, if they hit a bump in the road, it's important for them to see what they did wrong so they can adjust their strategy if needed.

Trackability is easy in the example of a child trying to improve grades in math and science. They can keep an eye on homework, quiz and test results throughout the school year, so they won't be surprised when they bring home that report card at the end of the year.

By making sure your kid's New Year's resolution is specific, motivating, attainable, relevant and trackable, you'll help set them up for success in the coming year and beyond.

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