Promises to keep
Setting New Year's resolutions is not just for adults
For many parents, taking time to sit down and discuss with a child the lessons learned during the past year, both good and bad, can serve as valuable, teachable moments and deep family bonds.
Because societal factors such as TV, school, friends and the Internet can strongly influence a young child’s behaviors, it’s important that parents help young ones map out and focus on a few simple, healthy resolutions that can later translate into positive behaviors as children grow and develop.
“Making New Year’s resolutions can be very beneficial for children because it teaches them the importance of setting goals and following through,” said Lizy Varughese, M.D., a pediatrician with Cook Children’s in Lewisville. “Not only can goals be applied to a child’s eating habits and physical activities, but they also teach important life lessons about the benefits of planning ahead and the success that comes from it.”
While it may be tempting as a parent to jump ahead and make a list of New Year’s resolutions for your child rather than waiting for them to develop a list on their own, empowering your kids to creatively embrace this time-honored tradition can be filled with good times and great memories.
Encourage children to start with a list of broader, bigger goals such as eating less junk food, picking up their toys or making better grades. No matter how far-fetched the goals may seem at first glance, parents should stay open-minded and flexible, resisting the urge to criticize their child’s resolutions. Remember, keeping the mood light and enthusiastic makes goal setting seem less like work and more like fun.
From there, Dr. Varughese suggests children break down their resolutions into small bites by using journaling as a method to solidify goals.
“Begin the new year by writing down specific goals for eating and participating in sports and exercise activities,” Dr. Varughese said. “Children are more likely to complete a task if it’s written down and there is accountability for their progress. It’s also important to be flexible so the parent can help kids for a more attainable goal if a particular goal is not met or seems difficult for the child.”
About the source
Dr. Varughese attended Texas A&M University and received a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences. She attended medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas and completed her residency at Stony Brook University Hospital, Long Island, New York. She was then appointed Clinical Professor of Pediatrics from 2005-2006. After that, she joined a private practice in New Jersey for five years. She moved back to her hometown of Dallas, Texas, and joined Cook Children's Physician Network in Lewisville in 2013.
She is married to Dr. Shane Varughese and has two children, Noah and Sarah. Dr. Varughese enjoys photography, cooking, and church activities. Her passion in life is taking care of children and educating families on preventative care and battling childhood obesity.