Children can celebrate the new year by making resolutions, too
The start of a new year is a great time to help your children focus on forming good habits.
Families can sit down together and pick a few things each person would like to do as New Year's resolutions. If the thought of "resolutions" sounds overwhelming, encourage kids to think of them as goals -- and make it fun.
"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," says pediatrician Lanre Falusi. "Kids also love having something to work toward and to have fun keeping track on sticker charts or getting praise or rewards as they reach these goals, depending on their age."
For example, if an 8-year-old meets a goal of reading every day for a week, perhaps he gets to pick the family movie during the weekend, Falusi suggests. Maybe your preschooler agrees to eat more vegetables by drinking them in smoothies, which she and the whole family can enjoy.
Below are some healthy and positive goal-setting ideas to suggest for children, depending on their age.
• 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.
• I will wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
• I will try new foods when I can, especially all different colors of vegetables.
• 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.
Kids, 5 to 12 years old
• I will drink water every day. 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 and 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 OK.
• I will try to talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I have a problem or feel stressed.
• I promise that I'll do my best to follow our household rules for video games and internet use.
• I will try to save time to read for fun.
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 nonviolent TV shows and video games I enjoy. I will spend only one to two hours each day -- at the most -- on these activities. I promise to respect our household rules for video games and internet use.
• I will try to get eight 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 who help people in need. These activities will make me feel better about myself and my community.
• When I feel angry or 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 whom 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.
• I will resist peer pressure to try cigarettes, e-cigarettes, drugs or alcohol.
• I agree not to use a cellphone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.
"Involving kids in the decision-making and making these fun for the whole family can help turn these resolutions into long-lasting habits," Falusi says.
• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics. For more information, go to HealthyChildren.org.