New Year’s Resolutions: Should parents make them for their children?

A recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of K12 Inc., the nation’s leading provider of technology-powered individualized education for students in pre-kindergarten through high school, showed that 87% of parents make, or want to make, New Year’s resolutions for their children aged 6 – 17. As you can well imagine, clean your room hit the top spot when asked what parents would want their children to resolve to improve in the coming year. This resolution was followed closely by performing better in school.  Healthier eating habits, getting more physical activity, and leaving behind the hours spent on video games rounded out the top five.

Other parental concerns for their children included minding manners, better hygiene, texting less and reading more, and being a better friend. The survey seems to show an overwhelming desire by parents to have their children assume more personal responsibility. The online survey was conducted earlier this month and was open to adults 18 years of age and older. Still only 421 of those responding had a child or more than one aged 6 to 17.

While setting and sticking to New Year’s resolutions is a commendable act, how many times have adults proclaimed their resolutions loud and clear on New Year’s Day only to have forgotten them by Valentine’s Day? So should parents be making New Year’s resolutions for their children? Should children even be concerned with coming up with their own resolutions at the start of each New Year?

Teaching children to become more personally responsible on a daily basis would go so much further than indoctrinating them into the tiresome and weakly held traditions of New Year’s resolutions. John Holdren, K¹² Inc.’s Senior Vice President of Content and Curriculum stated, “When we get older, it’s all about losing a few pounds. But when we’re younger, it’s about finding our way in the world, about building the habits and reinforcing the behaviors that bring out our best selves.” However, I believe these habits and behaviors should be addressed from day one, not left waiting until New Year’s Day to decided to do something about it.

Cognitive scientists have found through their research that much of life’s success is made up of a series of well-executed basics repeated over time. If parents teach their children from day one to pick up their toys when they are finished playing, and stay consistent with this teaching, there likely will not be the need for such resolutions as “clean your room.” Showing a student the benefit of actively engaging in academic pursuits from the earliest grade level, having the same gratifying success repeated school year after school year, would then negate the sudden importance of a resolution in middle or high school to “engage more in school.”

Setting goals and being more responsible are very laudable activities. Deciding to do so only once a year with lack luster commitment is not something we should be teaching children to accept as commonplace. Perhaps parents should concentrate more on daily reinforcement of their expectations for their children rather than waiting until January first to try to change learned behaviors.

Source: PRNewswire – December 31, 0501 E.T.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dianesloftis
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 14:34:05

    I believe that parents should guide their children to set goals year-round. More so, if the topic of “creating new years resolutions” happens to surface.. that parents should open the door to this discussion. I feel that focusing on positive communication, creating a clear understanding of what a resolution means and being the role model- are three effective ways parents could teach and guide their children. In my opinion, making resolutions or setting goals “for children” could leave a more negative impact and experience.


  2. makergoddess
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 15:22:56

    Thanks for your great comment Diane!

    I agree that the lines of communication should be kept open with one’s children rather than doing the thinking for them.


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