New Year, New Habits
Happy New Year to your child! As she is buzzing around in preparation to her first day back at school, she must already be making resolutions in her heart. Do you want to help her see it to reality?
By Aruna Raghuram
It’s already 9 p.m. and Anuj just walks in from his badminton practice. He gives mom a hi-five and goes for a shower. He turns on the light switch and immediately remembers something that makes him feel ill. He has his science quiz tomorrow! How could he forget? And his teacher has been so good in explaining lessons that he definitely didn’t want to perform badly. He runs back to his room and starts preparing, eating dinner on his desk bearing his mom’s disapproving look. He sleeps at 1 a.m., wakes up late and gets to school late. He is tired and sleepy all day long. He hates this experience and knows this isn’t the first time he forgets his priority. He starts feeling anxious when he thinks about the board exams he would be taking next year.
He wonders how he could manage his academics and interests without missing out on either one of them. He promises himself to not do this again.
What can help Anuj and students like him is not just a mere wish but strong resolutions. The very idea of resolutions can drive us towards goals and achievements. If you have a teenager at home, encouraging her to make a resolution or two at the start of the new year will help her strive towards excellence. The key element that transforms resolutions into reality is setting targets and acting on them.
As a parent, you need to help your child keep up the momentum and motivation throughout the year to fulfil these resolutions.
‘I will improve my performance’
Let your child aim to perform better. Guide her to set small, specific and achievable goals to work on.
Parent Tip: Help her break it down to specific goals like: "I want to score 85% or above in at least three subjects in the coming assessment," or "I want to reach 13.10 seconds in the 100 m race during the upcoming sports meet" (child could presently be clocking 13.50 seconds).
‘I will plan and use my time more effectively’
School, homework, extracurricular activities, friends, social media and chores, not to mention sleep, exercise, food and personal hygiene – help your teen manage time for all these effectively.
Parent Tip: Gift your child an elaborate planner or diary to help her write down her plans for the day. This will make her be more organised in her approach. Ask her to write down measurable outcomes so she can track her progress. This could be something like, “By the end of this week, I’m going to finish learning to play the new song in my guitar”. She will feel proud as she scores out one grid after another during the day.
‘I will not wait till the last moment to get my work done’
It is important to get assignments and projects done on time. Leaving things to the last minute only leads to stress.
Parent Tip: Make sure your child completes tasks on time. For example, he can set himself a target of completing his homework and assignments by 8 p.m. each day. You can give him a personal clock with a timer that goes off at 8 p.m.
‘I will read more, learn more‘
The more your teen reads, the better she gets equipped with skills to achieve her goals. So, encourage her to read more.
Parent Tip: Let your child explore blogs, magazines, newspapers and books that are relevant to her interests. Establish a ‘reading hour’ for the whole family. Ensure each one of you discusses and shares what you’ve read over dinner
‘I will try something new’
Let your teen also explore her interests in various other fields.
Parent Tip: Let her join a club, learn an instrument or take up a sport to discover a hidden talent and make like-minded friends. Give her that initial push to be committed to the activity.
‘I will balance my work, my friends, my play’
Setting specific, achievable and time bound targets can help your teen achieve, but such achievements should not come at the expense of happiness. There should be a balanced approach.
Parent Tip: If your teen feels she is doing too much school work, ask her to take time off and enjoy an evening with friends. Ensure she has a good social life. Help her forge friendships with her peers. Friendship will provide emotional support in times of need. She can volunteer at social organisations, practise yoga or meditation, join a sports team or simply go for a jog in the neighbourhood.
Resolutions can help your child to become the person he wants to be. But making changes to one's life isn’t that easy, your child needs all the love and support you can give him. As he makes resolutions to improve himself in this new year, you too should resolve to be a more patient and supportive parent.
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