January 3, 2010 by middleearthnj
It’s that time of year again where we feel the urge to reflect on the past year and hope for all the possibilities in the coming year, and that often results in the all-too-famous New Year’s Resolutions. A resolution is a promise that you make to yourself.
In many ways, resolutions are like goals. Setting goals is a skill that children should learn, so please consider sitting down with the teenagers you know and help them create a goal (or goals) for themselves. You can help them start by asking them three questions:
- What do you like about your life?
- What problem would you like to see go away or improved?
- What new things would you like to see happen?
So, as the new year approaches, Middle Earth would like to offer suggestions for some positive resolutions for teenagers and some methods for improving success in achieving them. Not everyone is successful with their resolutions, but many people are able to make significant life changes that positively affect their health and lifestyles.
Tips for Success
- Be specific. Goals that are vague, such as wanting “to be happier,” don’t offer a method for achieving them. Have the youth write down their goals and then define specific, concrete paths to reach them. Have them set deadlines for their steps within each goal and encourage them to track their progress. The more self-monitoring that is done, the more likely the youth will succeed. And be sure to reward the teen when they complete a step.
- Keep it simple. Remind teens that keeping their resolutions will make them feel better about themselves. So, it’s important not to make wild resolutions that are too difficult to follow. The promises they make should not be too hard to keep or used to criticize themselves.
- Plan ahead. There will be times when you don’t feel like continuing towards your goal or when your enthusiasm gives way, so have a plan for how you’re going to pull yourself out of that lull.
- Make it official. Have the teen tell others about their resolution, post it on the refrigerator, write a contract with themselves, or keep a journal. When they make their goal official, they will feel more accountability for achieving it. But of course, you must respect their privacy as appropriate.
Suggestions for Positive Goals for Adolescents from the American Academy of Pediatrics
- I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable every day, and I will limit the amount of soda I drink.
- I will take care of my body through physical activity and nutrition.
- I will choose non-violent television shows and video games, and I will spend only one to two hours each day – at the most – on these activities.
- I will help out in my community – through volunteering, working with community groups or by joining a group that helps people in need.
- I will wipe negative “self talk” (i.e. “I can’t do it” or “I’m so dumb”) out of my vocabulary.
- When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find constructive ways to deal with stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or discussing my problem with a parent or friend.
- When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk with an adult about my choices.
- I will be careful about whom I choose to date, and always treat the other person with respect and without coercion or violence.
- I will resist peer pressure to try drugs and alcohol.
There are many more possibilities for good resolutions, including improving grades, keeping curfews, helping out with chores, spending time with siblings. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so encourage youth to consider all possibilities and to make sure they break down their goals into “baby steps.” They will be proud of each “check mark” next to a step within their goal and they will see this as progress.
Middle Earth wishes you and your teen(s) a very healthy and happy new year and much success with your resolutions!