As promised on Monday, parent coach and Dallas mom Galit Birk, PhD is joining in on our (unofficial) “resolution week” here on D Moms with her tips on creating goals and intentions for the year with your kids — and sticking to them. Which is, after all, the most important part.
Here’s what she has to say…
By Galit Birk, PhD
Here we are again in January, a month often characterized by new beginnings, renewed motivation, and of course…new resolutions. Maybe your goal this year is to finally drop those last five baby weight pounds or get a trainer or carve out more time for yourself or get your toddler potty trained… We all have great intentions in January, but the challenge is figuring out how to keep these intentions alive beyond this month and bring them to fruition throughout the year both for ourselves and for our children. Here are a few suggestions: model it, make it age appropriate and share the experience.
Model it: Be the change you wish to see in your kids.
This should come as no surprise, as you already know that from very early on our children are constantly learning from us. They watch us, hear us, and even subconsciously pick up on our emotional states (sometimes even before we do!). The beginning of the year is a great time to start being the change we wish to see in our kids – to model to them that which we wish to see in them. So, for example, if you want this to be the year that they stop playing Angry Birds when you’re out to dinner and instead draw a picture or even join in family conversation, I suggest you leave your own iPhone in your purse and remind yourself that no text or Facebook check-in is as important as present time with your family. (I’m working on this myself – no iPhones on the table!) Or if you want your child to speak more respectfully to you, you can start by speaking this way to him/her even when all you want to do is scream and pull your hair out.
Additionally, I recommend creating your own list of intentions for the year and make your items as specific and measurable as you can so that you can create action steps to support them. Then get yourself a buddy to help keep you accountable in taking those steps and living out those intentions. I use an iPhone app (Streaks, by Fanzter) to support my daily accountability and to help turn my intentions into habits. If your child is old enough, you can share your process of creating and working through your intentions with him/her and invite them to do the same with a buddy, be it you or a friend. Make this the year you start walking the walk.
Make it age appropriate
In order to be effective, children’s intentions should be age appropriate, clear, and doable. Think of a few simple and attainable goals to start with to generate momentum and excitement for the task; you can always revisit and add to this list throughout the year. You might even create a chart for your child to keep track of (measure) their successes. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics, an age-appropriate goal for a preschooler might be: “I will clean up my toys and put them where they belong,” or “I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.” A 5-12 year old might say, “I will always wear a helmet while bicycling,” or “I’ll be friendly to kids who need friends – like someone who is shy, or is new to my school.” A teenager might commit to “take care of my body through physical activity and nutrition,” or “I will resist peer pressure to try tobacco, drugs or alcohol.” I encourage you to look through the full list suggested by the AAP but also to think about some of your own ideas of possible simple and doable goals for your child. Don’t forget to involve your child in this process as much as possible and ask him/her what they might want to work on this year and how you might support them.
Share the experience: Participation is key to effective change.
Get your child as involved as age-appropriately possible in the process of creating their goals and then acting out the changes. You might suggest a few of your own first and then ask your child, even of preschool-age, if there is anything they would like to add to their list of intentions? Additionally you might ask them to provide input on how to increase accountability and how to keep track of actions they wish to turn into habits. I see nothing wrong with a reward chart for little ones. Even us moms reward ourselves sometimes with a new shirt when we drop those last few stubborn pounds. Consider creating a shared family list of intentions as a way to involve the whole family. Lastly, decide to report-out on progress periodically and to celebrate successes as a family!
Galit Birk, PhD is a PCI Certified Parent Coach® who walks folks through parenting with wisdom and grace in her private practice CORE Parent Coaching.