Last year, Kavya and Naren came up with New Year resolutions for their family. Naren wanted to better balance his work life and family life. Kavya wanted to lose weight. They wanted their preteen, Vyas to try a new competitive sport. And, they decided to cut down sugary foods for their preschooler, Minu. They started enthusiastically, following the plan judiciously during the first week. In the second week, Minu managed to reach a pack of cookies on the shelf and ate them all in one go! Then came Vyas’s turn. He was not motivated to pursue any competitive sport, so he was still choosing a sport in February. And somewhere in mid-March, Kavya and Naren decided they’ve had enough. In no time, their resolutions happily flew out of the window.
What makes it so difficult to stick to resolutions? It is not lack of willpower alone. Blame it on the unrealistic or unclear goals.
Aim for SMART Goals
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Many businesses and corporates use this to better track their goals. Why not bring in this effective practice to your family?
A well-defined SMART goal is easy to attain for your child. He is also less likely to put off things. Here are some examples to help you understand better.
How to make resolutions work
Resolutions or goals with a set time-limit and step-by-step measurable outcomes give you something to look forward to and motivate you to work towards them. Goal-setting teaches responsibility, resilience, and time-management to a child. Moreover, when your child attains a goal, he feels accomplished.
This improves his self-confidence. Also, recent research indicates that grit — the perseverance to attain a goal — predicts success in children better than high IQ.
If you make the yearly resolution experience rewarding and meaningful, you and your child will have a greater chance to succeed in your goals. But, how do you make the process rewarding? Simple – by making the goals doable and fun. Here’s how to do it.
Instead of coming up with a goal yourself, let your child decide on something that she is passionate about. This way, the chances of her working towards it and succeeding are more. Your child should be a part of the entire process of brainstorming, planning and putting things into action. For a very young child, focus more on the goal-setting process itself and not on the outcome. If you feel your child's goal is unrealistic, gently guide her towards choosing a more attainable goal.
If your child is looking to improve his tennis skills, make it a family goal. Let your spouse drop and pick him up from his tennis classes. Let his sibling check on how he is doing every week. The experience of working together brings you closer together as a family. You also tend to support each other. Sit together as a family and review your progress. If one of you is facing a challenge, discuss it and motivate each other.
Put it in writing
Write down your family goals and display the goal chart in a place where everyone can see. There is scientific evidence why writing down a goal works. When you mentally make a note of your goals, you are only engaging the imaginative side (right hemisphere) of your brain. If you write down your goals, you are integrating your logical side (left hemisphere) with the imaginative side. And, this is when all the magic of transforming your thoughts into reality happens.
Keep goals simple and doable
Add simple goals to your everyday routine. Give a hug, say thank you and smile more. These are not only doable but also hold the key to instilling good habits in your child.
Encourage, Compliment and Reward
As your child works hard towards her goals, encourage and compliment her. To celebrate progress reward your family with experiences, instead of gifts. For a younger child, a simple sticker chart is all you need. Help your child envision what accomplishing feels like. For instance, you have an aspiring musician going for her first performance. Ask her: “How will you feel like if your performance is successful?” This will help ease her fears and doubts.
Don’t forget the fun
As much as you want your child to succeed in academics, sports or in general behaviour, don’t go overboard and make the experience overwhelming. Keep it fun and make it a ritual. As you jot down resolutions as a family, sit together with a special snack like popcorn, vadas, hot chocolate or chai. Buy inexpensive items like a small globe to denote travel, a keepsake miniature bat or ball to denote sports or an attractive pen to denote academics. Place such items near your goal chart to gently remind you of the goals.