New Year’s Resolutions for Kids: Keep the Pressure Off
Guest post by Kat Cole
It may be a few days past the dawn of New Years Eve but that does not mean that it is now too late for resolutions to be made to help ensure that the year ahead is a happy and healthy one. The first month of 2012 is not only a great time for parents to make personal resolutions but this period can also be an ideal time for young children to explore the realm of self-improvement.
However, whereas Mum might scorn herself for eating that éclair during the first week of her New Year’s diet, it is important to keep the pressure off of young children regarding self-help. Praise should be given in reward of the efforts made by kids to achieve their resolutions – it should never simply be a case of success or failure.
Here then, are four New Year’s resolutions for young children and details regarding how you can positively encourage the achievement of these:
Improve School Grades
In the rush to get everything completed each day, parents can easily forget to keep tabs on their child’s progress at school beyond the annual Parents Evening or forget to praise their children for doing well in a pop quiz at school. Similarly, the slipping of a child’s academic achievement can also be missed by parents.
Talking to your child’s teacher on a regular basis when you collect them from school can help you to keep tabs on your kid’s education and progress. Even if your kid is performing well, it is important to ensure that they complete all of the homework set for them in order to sustain and build upon their capabilities.
Banning access to the television until homework is completed each evening is a good idea but this most effective when the ban is in place for everyone – hearing Dad watching his favourite programs in the other room can be just as distracting for those trying to study! Mum and Dad should use the child’s half hour homework time to complete their own paperwork (bills, tax returns, surveys etc) at the table so that their child does not feel left out and so that help is on hand should they require it.
Installing a ‘rewards chart’ in the home can also be an effective method for seeing children putting their all into their school endeavours. For every great grade, gold star sticker or merit that they receive as result of their hard work, the closer they get to receiving a prize (I suggest a new toy worth no more than $15 – getting spoiled should never be the incentive!)
Due to many parents having busy lives, it is all too easy for children to survive on a diet of junk and convenience foods. It is quite likely that your offspring is failing to intake the recommend ‘Five-a-Day’ and the resulting lack of nutrients in their body could affect their academic abilities, in addition to their physical health. This is why it is imperative to encourage them to make healthier food choices from time to time. You can play your part too by packing them healthier packed lunches.
Opening a lunchbox to find carrot sticks and hummus every day could be distressing for a child who is used to finding potato chips and Reese’s Pieces awaiting them at lunch break. Slowly introducing new foods and/or replacing their chocolate treat with an apple or banana a couple of times a week will make the changes less of a shock.
For especially fussy children, it is important to work with them to discover additional – but healthy – foods that they like and will eat. Making up their very own “tasting plate” of new fruits, vegetables and healthier alternative to their favourite snacks (for example, rice cakes instead of crisps) at home will make them feel that they are in charge of their new, improved diet and your child might just surprise you with what is pleasing to their palette!
Children with healthier diets are usually better behaved and are far less likely to face weight problems, both in their youth and in adulthood. This leads nicely into the next potential resolution…
Get More Exercise (and/or lose weight!)
It is very important to not make losing weight a resolution for children that are of a healthy weight or just a few pounds over that which is suitable for their height, since this can stimulate an obsession with ones appearance and/or the number on the scale which can carry on into adulthood. For children whose health is suffering as a result of being overweight however, introducing more physical – but fun – activities into their lives is a simple way of aiding your child’s fat loss (no young child should ever be made to run laps!)
The majority of children would benefit from being more active, regardless of their size – did you know that children are supposed to engage in an hour of aerobic exercise each and every day?
Even if there has been no concerns raised by health practitioners or your child’s school regarding their weight, the prevention of obesity is definitely better than the cure. You may not have the time to regularly take your child to the local play park or leisure centre but you can help to ensure that your child’s activity levels are substantial enough by installing various play systems into your back garden; trampolines, climbing frames, swingsets and a Swing-Ball kit are sure to see your kid moving more without the need for any additional encouragement!
Make More Friends
Making new friends is important for every child, regardless of their current popularity levels. Encouraging your child to reach out to kids who appear to be lonely on the playground will provide them with a well-rounded, approachable personality in time. If your child happens to be the person who spends school break times on their lonesome, it is important to encourage them to approach others – even rejections from peers can be beneficial to a child’s character since it is obvious that not every person they encounter during their lifetime will be of a friendly nature.
After school clubs and activities are great for the blossoming of new friendships amongst school children thanks to shared interests and inevitable team building. Many (such as drama, football, netball and dance clubs) will also see your child engaging in more physical activity too; the importance of which I discussed above.
Throwing parties for the advent of your child’s birthday can be another effective way of increasing their social acumen but be sure that those invited are pleasant children who are not simply using your kid’s friendship to access the hired bouncy castle and birthday cake.
If your child continues to struggle to make friends it may be worth delicately speaking to their teacher since being seated elsewhere in class or being matched up with different peers for group work can make a significant difference.
About the author: Kat Cole – loves children and works at an indoor jungle gym that comprises the very best play systems.