By: Lanre Falusi, MD, FAAP
The start of a new year is a great time to help your children focus on forming good habits. Making New Year's resolutions can be a fun way to do this!
As a pediatrician and mom of three kids, I know how important it is to set healthy goals with kids – and to be realistic about those goals. Kids also love having something to work toward. They can have fun keeping track on sticker charts or getting praise or rewards as they reach these goals, depending on their age.
Making resolutions together
I encourage you to sit down with your kids and, together, pick maybe one or two goals they want to set as their New Year's resolutions. If it's too overwhelming to think of them as resolutions, then just talk about them as goals and make it fun.
Keep it fun
If your 8-year-old meets that goal of reading every day for a week, maybe they get to pick the family movie during the weekend. Maybe your preschooler can eat more vegetables by drinking them in smoothies that the whole family enjoys. Involving kids in the decision-making and making these fun for the entire family can help turn these resolutions into long-lasting habits.
Here are some healthy and positive goal-setting resolution ideas you can suggest to your children, depending on their age:
New Year's resolution ideas for preschoolers
I will try hard to
clean up my toys by putting them where they belong.
I will let my parents help me
brush my teeth twice a day.
wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
I will try new foods when I can, especially all different colors of
I will learn how to help clear the table when I am done eating.
I will be friendly to all animals. I will learn how to ask the owners if I can
pet their animal first.
I will always hold a grown-up's hand whenever I cross the street.
I will do my best to
be nice to other kids who need a friend or look sad or lonely.
I will talk with my parent or another adult I trust when I need help or am scared.
New Year's resolution ideas for kids (5 to 12 years old)
drink water every day and healthy beverages like milk with meals. I will keep soda and fruit drinks only for special times.
I will wear my
seat belt every time I get in a car. I'll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
I will try to find a physical
activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) or a
sport I like and do it at least three times a week!
I will take care of my skin by putting on
sunscreen and wearing a hat and sunglasses when possible.
I will always wear a
helmet when riding a bike, scooter or skateboard.
I'll try to be
friendly to kids who may have a hard time making friends by talking with them and inviting them to join activities.
I will tell an adult about bullying that I see or hear about to do what I can to help keep school safe for everyone.
I will keep my personal info safe and not share my name, home address, school name or telephone number online. Also, I'll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer or phone without asking my parent if it is okay.
I will try to talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I have a problem or feel
I promise that I'll do my best to follow our
household rules for videogames and internet use.
I will try to save time to
read for fun.
New Year's resolution ideas for teens (13 years old and older)
I will try to eat two servings of
fruit and two servings of
vegetables every day. I will drink
sodas or fruit drinks only at special times.
I will do my best to take care of my body through fun
physical activity and eating the right types and amounts of foods.
When I have some down time for media, I will try to choose educational, high-quality non-violent TV shows and
video games that I enjoy. I will spend only one to two hours each day—at the most— on these activities. I promise to respect out
household rules for videogames and internet use.
I will try to get 8 to 10 hours of
sleep that my body needs each night.
I will do what I can to
help out in my community. I will give some of my time to help others, working with community groups or others that help people in need. These activities will make me feel better about myself and my community.
When I feel angry stressed out, I will take a break and find helpful ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or talking about my problem with a parent or friend.
When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk about my choices with an adult I can trust.
When I notice my friends are struggling, being
bullied or making risky choices, I will look for a trusted adult so that we can attempt to find a way to help.
I will be careful about whom I choose to date. I will treat the other person with respect and not force them to do something they do not want to do. I will not use
violence. I will expect to be treated the same way in return.
resist peer pressure to try drugs, alcohol or smoking or
I agree not to use a cell phone or text message
while driving and to always use a seat belt.
Talk with your child's pediatrician about other important habits that can help ensure a happy, healthy and safe new year.
About Dr. Falusi
Lanre Omojokun Falusi, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician in Washington, DC. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Councils on Community Pediatrics and Communications and Media. Dr. Falusi is also past president of the District of Columbia AAP chapter.