Follow Up but Don't Nag About Resolutions
Check in periodically with kids on how they're doing. "Don't worry about lapses. Expect them. A lapse is forgetting for a day or two, or having a week in which a turtle step didn't work. Or maybe you went on vacation and couldn't practice. That's not failure; that's just trying. No big change is ever accomplished perfectly," Dr. Carter says.
"Try not to be a big nag about this," Kolari says. If your child isn't making progress on a resolution, "first affirm how hard it is: It seemed like a great idea, but it's not easy to stick to. Ask, 'What's getting in the way for you?' Help them get excited about it again." To avoid parental nagging, she advises framing the resolutions on a wall as a reminder.
Cox agrees. "Make sure the resolutions are accessible so you can find them easily. You could have a ritual every month in which you bring them out and talk about how you're all doing."
Of course, if the plan isn't working, you can always adjust it. "If you lose your way," Dr. Goodman says, "figure out another way to get there."
That's what happened when Dr. Carter's daughter set a goal of getting ready for school 15 minutes earlier each morning. "She thought of her six turtle steps, but it turned out not to be all that easy. Some of them were not tangible enough. So she erased them and substituted easier things. She did halvsies until the goal was complete. The beauty of letting kids choose their own goal is that they want it for themselves."