How to Help Kids Set Self-Care Resolutions for the New Year
The purpose of New Year’s resolutions is to improve our quality of life in the year ahead. Yet our resolutions rarely focus on the most effective way to enhance our well-being: mental and emotional health. Taking care of our mental and emotional health makes it easier to manage just about every aspect of life. As this year ends, help kids set self-care resolutions for a happier and healthier year to come.
Importance of Resolutions
Setting goals or setting intentions promotes mindfulness and positive self-direction. While we can set goals any time, it makes sense to reflect and redirect as a new year begins. Resolutions are a source of inspiration, motivation, and improved focus to start the year.
When we encourage children to set resolutions, we give them the opportunity to reflect on both successes and learning experiences from the previous year. Then, they consider their priorities for the new year. Reflection, prioritization, and the ability to set and stick with goals are all critical for academic and life success.
So, setting resolutions isn’t just a cute activity—it’s a meaningful experience for children and adults of all ages.
Examples of Self-Care Resolutions for Kids
If you want to help kids set self-care resolutions for the New Year, the first step is to understand what these resolutions might look like.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- When I feel upset/scared/worried, I will remember to pause and take deep breaths. (Feel free to substitute any strategy to help children cope with anxiety Whatever works best for the child!)
- If I feel frustrated in class, I will ask for help.
- I will talk to my family or friends that I trust about my problems, instead of keeping them inside.
- Drawing helps me feel relaxed, so this year I will draw more. (Children may substitute other relaxing activities like singing, dancing, writing in a journal, reading a book, etc.).
- Exercise helps me feel happy and healthy, so I will move my body every day. (Children get more specific here, listing physical activities they enjoy like playing soccer, running around with their pet, etc.).
Of course, self-care can also mean improving relationships with friends and family members or performing better in school. Talk to children about what upset or worried them this year, then discuss strategies to handle these situations or issues better in the year ahead.
Tips to Help Kids Set Self-Care Resolutions That Stick
We all know that setting a resolution is easy. Sticking with it is the hard part! Try these tips to help your students or children not only set self-care resolutions but follow through with them, too.
Children learn most effectively by example. Any activity becomes easier when we watch someone else do it first. Plus, children want to emulate the important adults in their lives.
As you work with children to set self-care resolutions, set a resolution of your own too. Then, make sure to follow through. Keep children updated on your progress with statements like, “Remember my resolution to write in my journal more often? I wrote every day last week!” or ““Oops! I’m supposed to take a deep breath when I feel worried. Let me do that now.”
Better yet, ask for help: “Can you help me remember to take a deep breath when I feel worried?” Discussing both your successes and mistakes teaches children that they won’t remember their resolution every time, but they can always try again. You also send the message that it’s completely acceptable to ask for help.
Ask Helpful Questions
Help kids set self-care resolutions by asking guiding questions like:
- What’s something you’re really proud of that you did this year?
- What was hard about this year?
- Did anything worry or upset you this year? What was it?
- In the New Year, what do you think would help you feel better if you feel worried or upset?
- What are a few simple things you could do to make the New Year even better than this year?
Provide some of the examples above to help children if they get stuck, or answer the questions yourself to model brainstorming your own self-care resolution.
Find the “Why”
Asking children these guiding questions will help them find a resolution, and it will also help them find their “why.” Understanding why they’re setting a goal helps children stay motivated to stick with it.
If children understand that their self-care resolution will make it easier to manage their emotions, feel happy and healthy, and make good choices, they’re more likely to want to follow through.
Talk to children about how it’s very important to take good care of our bodies and brains. When we take good care of ourselves, we feel happier and healthier. It’s easier to do a good job with school and other activities, treat others with kindness, and be the very best version of ourselves.
Write It Down
Successful executives and entrepreneurs swear by the practice of writing down their goals, and there’s research to support this practice. Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews found that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you commit them to writing.
Writing encourages clarity, feels more official than simply saying or thinking a goal, and helps us remember our resolution.
Ask your children or students to write down their self-care resolution, plus a few reasons why they chose it. Ideally, you’ll post the resolution somewhere they will see it each day. Younger children can also draw a picture of their resolution, alongside a picture of how they will feel as a result of accomplishing it.
Remind children of their resolutions by briefly checking in. Check-in weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. You may want to start with more frequent check-ins, then space them out more as the resolution starts to become a healthy habit.
Use check-ins as an opportunity to either celebrate or learn. For instance, you might have children check a box that says “Yay, I did it!” or “Oops, I’m working on it.”
If children check “Yay, I did it!” ask them to provide an example of following through with their resolution. How did it feel? What difference did it make? If they check, “Oops, I’m working on it,” ask them to write down something they would like to do differently moving forward. Offer encouragement rather than judgment, motivating children to keep learning and growing.
By following these tips, you’ll help kids set self-care resolutions that guide them to happiness and health in the New Year.