Are New Year’s Resolutions Good or Bad for Teens?

‘Tis the time of year when everyone is gearing up for gift giving, merry making, and resolution setting.  One question we hear discussed a lot this time of year is whether or not it is a good idea to encourage teenagers to set New Year’s Resolutions.  On one hand, parents are wary of putting pressure on their teens to lose weight or improve their grades because they don’t want to undermine their self confidence.  On the other hand, New Year’s Resolutions are really nothing more than goals that happen to be set on a particular day and participating in goal setting may be exactly what some teenagers need.

So the answer is, it depends.  It depends on the teenager, the goal, and other factors that are not always within our control.  The process of goal setting is inherently good, regardless of whether or not the goals are achieved.  According to a study  from the University of Scranton, if you go through the process of setting resolutions or goals, you are twice as likely as someone who doesn’t to achieve what you are striving for.  Those who don’t set goals, who don’t think about where they are going and how they want to get there, have only a 4% chance of getting what they want.

Here are some of our favorite tips for helping teens set goals, track their progress, and celebrate their successes.

1.     All for One

Pick goals as a family and you will start out with a built in support system.  It is always easier to make lasting life changes when the people around us are doing it with us.  Things like getting more exercise, eating a healthier diet, or spending more time together are great goals you can pursue as a family.

2.     Individual Goals, Family Support

You don’t all have to have the same goals to be supportive of each other.  Let each family member set their own resolutions but then have a family meeting to discuss each person’s resolutions and how each person can be supportive and helpful  to the other members of the family.  If Mom wants more time to exercise, other family members might offer to take over some family chores to free up her time and support her goal.  Have regular family meetings to talk about how each person’s goals are going.

3.     Together and Apart

You can also combine the two approaches above and have some family goals like being more active in the community or doing volunteer work together each month as well as setting individual goals.  This approach ensures you will have some family bonding but also addresses the needs and wants of the individuals in the family.

To help you kick start your goal setting for 2013, here are some ideas for individual and family goals.

Individual Goals

  1. Commit to helping out around the house in one new way every week.
  2. Make a commitment to watch less TV.
  3. Decide to be nicer to other family members, especially if they look up to you.
  4. Resolve to ask for help when you need it and take help when it’s offered.
  5. Resolve to volunteer and give some of your time to someone else.

Family Goals

  1. Resolve to be a healthier family and to get more physical activity.
  2. Commit to eating dinner together at the table several nights a week.
  3. Decide to spend more quality time together.
  4. Choose a home improvement project or a vacation that the family can plan and undertake together.
  5. Commit to saying one sincere, positive thing about each member of your family every day.



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