8 Ways to Help Kids Make New Year's Resolutions

Suggest -- Don't Dictate Resolutions

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The big question parents have at this point: Should you make resolutions for your child? Most experts say no. You can guide and suggest general categories for change, help your child clarify goals, and make sure they're age-appropriate, but kids should come up with resolutions themselves. This is how they take ownership of their goals and learn to plan.

The first step is to listen, Kolari says. "Ask them what they want for themselves. If it's your agenda that's driving the conversation, you're not listening."

Still, most kids need a little guidance. Come up with three or four broad categories -- such as personal goals, friendship goals, helping goals, and school goals -- and let them fill in the specifics. Cox, who also teaches workshops on family traditions, suggests parents ask, "Are there things that you could do better or differently? For instance, how should you take care of yourself or treat other people?" If they draw a blank, you could offer some examples, such as being nicer to siblings, sharing better with friends, or helping more at home.

Your kids might also include what Kolari calls "material goals," such as collecting Silly Bandz or Barbies. "Don't say, 'That's not a good goal,'" she says. Be open to what's important to them. "It's a great way to have a meaningful conversation with your kids and see what they're thinking."

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