Ask BBB

 

Do you think New Year’s resolutions are a good idea for my 9-year-old son? Nothing crazy like losing weight, but something along the lines of committing to keeping his room cleaner. I want to teach him how to set goals, but are resolutions a good place to start?

Two years ago I was on the “Today” show talking about this very issue—New Year’s resolutions! ’Tis the season.

I wonder: Do you make resolutions? And more importantly, do you keep them? I wonder: How many people do you know who, on December 31, look back and say, “I did it! I stayed on my diet for the whole year!”

Resolutions are really hard for adults to keep. Is it reasonable to expect a child to make and keep a resolution? Not likely.

Truth be told, I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions for anyone. It’s not that I don’t believe in resolving to change your ways. It is the sense of failure that one feels when you blow your resolution.

A resolution implies that you WILL do something. And when you fall off the wagon, it erodes your sense of “I can do it.” That’s not a good thing. No one likes to feel like a loser.

As you said above, you want your son to set goals for himself. Nothing wrong with that.

Maybe you have answered your own question. Maybe you can use the new year as a good time to discuss what changes could be made and the idea of the holiday of New Year’s Day being a good time to turn over a new leaf, as the saying goes.

But just know, your son needs to buy into the idea. If he is not on board, it will fail.

Why don’t you ask him what changes in himself or in his behavior or habits he would like to make in the new year? And then he can be in charge of reaching toward his goals, measuring his progress and feel proud of himself.

You can be the cheerleader, encouraging and praising his efforts. You can even incentivize his progress. But if it’s your goal for him, it’s a whole different story.

As an aside, a 9-year-old boy keeping his room cleaner will likely be an uphill battle. But that’s for another column!

Happy New Year!