December 29, 2014 by middleearthnj
For many people, a new year feels full of hope and possibility, which is probably why so many of us feel the desire to improve ourselves as the year begins. If your teen is having that urge, Middle Earth is offering our “top ten list” for the best New Year’s Resolutions for youth. Give this list to your teen and let them choose one to focus on:
1. Learn Something New
Trying something new is one of the best ways to develop ourselves. Learning a new skill can stretch us, help us meet new people, and give us new confidence. It’s ok if you end up not liking it, just trying something is the goal – it’s not a lifetime commitment. You could learn how to: play a new sport, knit, cook, skateboard, play a new musical instrument, take beautiful photographs, play chess, or join a new group. The possibilities are endless! Resolve to just try one new thing this year.
2. Become a Better Friend or Family Member
Relationships are one of the most important parts of our life. Having good relationships can make everything in life sweeter, and having bad relationships can drain all of your energy. Make an investment in some of your closest relationships by resolving to be a better friend or family member. Being honest, attentive, fun, supportive, trustworthy, dependable, caring, and accepting are the qualities of a good friend. Pick the quality you have the most trouble with and find ways to improve it. Or, choose to be a friend to someone who is lonely or doesn’t seem to fit in.
3. Find a Cause
Finding a way to make the world a better place can be incredibly fulfilling. There are so many ways to help others, so resolve to look through the options, find something you feel passionate about, and jump in to help! To help you jumpstart your research, here are some ideas:
- donate stuff you no longer use to those in need,
- perform a random act of kindness each day,
- raise money for a charity walk in your town,
- organize a blood drive;
- give some manual labor to Habitat for Humanity;
- collect canned goods for the food bank;
- care for animals at the shelter;
- clean park trails; or
- send care packages to troops or sick children.
4. Be a Role Model
There are few goals as noble as trying to be a good role model to those around you. The key here is to make smart decisions in front of other people. Say no to drugs and alcohol. Stand up to a bully. Quit smoking. Invite the new kid to sit with you at lunch.
5. Manage Stress
No one can avoid stress, but we can learn how to manage it. A little stress can actually be good – it helps us develop our strengths, as well as persistence. Too much stress, however, is unhealthy and can make you sick, not to mention miserable. Learn how to best manage your stress by trying out these stress relievers and finding the one that works best for you: exercise, get more sleep, journal, listen to music or perform some type of art like dance or painting, read a book, take a walk, or learn relaxation exercises, such as mindful breathing.
6. Improve your GPA
You do not need to make a goal to get straight A’s. Simply resolve to bump up your school performance by just a little bit this year. For example, you could try extra hard to bump that “C” in math to a “B.” You can do this by: always completing your homework; putting in extra time studying; or getting a tutor. You will feel better about yourself, your parents will be proud, and you will be setting yourself up for a brighter future. You can get study tips in our previous blog: Good Study Habits in Teens.
7. Read for Fun
Reading strengthens your mind, improves your literacy (which significantly improves your chances for a successful adulthood), and opens your perspective to new ideas. Unfortunately, school can sometimes ruin the joy of reading, since it’s a story you didn’t pick and you’re being graded. So, instead, choose 3 books to read this year that are not school books. Choose stories that intrigue you! You might ask friends or a librarian for recommendations, and choose books from different genres, such as science fiction, fantasy, gothic novels, inspirational biographies, page-turning mysteries, love stories.
8. Eat Slower
Our culture likes to do everything fast, and that even translates into eating. We buy fast food, and we gobble it down before we even taste it. Consider a resolution to eat more home-cooked meals, choose healthy snacks, and put your fork down between every bite to slow down. Those simple steps will easily help you lose weight and be healthier.
9. Get Moving
This is a popular resolution that many fail to keep, but it is worthy of consideration. Exercise is one of the very best ways to become healthier. Get off the couch a little more often to play sports, walk with a friend or the dog, swim, cycle, skate, or generally move around.
10. Take a Healthy Risk
Exploring your limits and abilities is a normal rite of passage for teens and can help you learn a lot about yourself. But, clearly, there are good risks and bad risks. Risky behaviors such as trying drugs or driving without a seat belt are dangerous and not constructive. Healthy risks are things that make you stretch and grow as a person. For some teens, simply meeting new people can be a risk, while others might like an adrenaline-charged sport to get their thrill. Think about what seems risky to you – maybe joining a new club, expressing an unpopular opinion in class, taking up rock-climbing, or trying out for the school play – and give it a try! Many of us avoid these types of healthy risks, because we fear we will fail, but these are exactly the type of risks you need to find out what you’re capable of and prepare you for the inevitable risks you will need to take as an adult.
If your teen decides to make a resolution, talk with them right away about how they would best like your support. Some young people want more affirmation for the good choices they make. Others want parents to be firm about the boundaries when they’re tempted to stray. Obviously, not everyone is successful with their resolutions, but many people are able to make significant life changes that positively affect their health and lifestyles. Here are some ideas for how your teen can successfully stick to their goal:
Tips for Success
- Be specific. 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.
- Keep it simple. Remind teens that keeping their resolutions should 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, be used to criticize themselves, or create additional stress.
- 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 share their resolution in some way, such as telling others about their resolution, posting it on the refrigerator or the mirror in their room, writing a contract with themselves, or keeping a journal. When they make their goal official, they will feel more accountability for achieving it.
Middle Earth wishes you and your loved ones a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year!