Tag Archives: new years resolutions

Helping Your Children Make Resolutions That Stick


We all know the story: make a New Year’s resolution in January, and by mid-March you’ll be asking yourself, “What happened to that diet?” Now that it’s December, children in classrooms around the country are hearing about New Year’s resolutions. Your child might be thinking about what she wants hers to be for 2017. Unfortunately for students excited to make resolutions, research bears out the common wisdom that setting a large goal is unlikely to result in any meaningful change. That’s because our desire to change only accounts for a percentage of our ability to follow through with it. So if research shows that grand, sweeping goals do not make effective resolutions, then why set our kids up for failure? Rather than give up on resolutions altogether, follow these four steps to help your children devise plans that create real results!

1. First, find out what your child thinks a good resolution would be. If he’s like most people, he’ll probably pick something that sounds wonderful and is hard to quantify, like, “Be a better friend.” Allow your child to imagine how he’ll feel if he pursues this resolution. This step is all about your child identifying the goal and feeling motivated to achieve it.

2. Next, ask her what that resolution would look like. In other words, if she told a story or drew a picture about her resolution, what would it be? A resolution to help out more around the house might be a picture of a child putting her dinner plate in the dishwasher. This step is all about identifying the behavior behind the resolution.

3. After that, brainstorm with your child to find out when that behavior should happen. Being nicer to a younger sibling might happen during homework time or on a Saturday morning before parents are awake. The key here is for your child to identify a specific situation when the behavior should occur. It is clear and concrete; not “someday” or “all the time.”

4. Finally, have your child create an “If-Then” statement for using the new behavior. “If-Then” statements combine the situation with the desired behavioral response. Psychologists call this an “implementation intention.” A teenager who wants to procrastinate less might create the statement, “If I feel like procrastinating during homework time, then I will set the timer on my phone to at least work for two minutes before taking a break.”

And that’s it! Follow these steps for effective goal setting and behavior change, and give your kids the chance to make their resolutions a reality.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Christina Di Bartolo, LMSW, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the program supervisor for the Institute for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Behavior Disorder Centers at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center

New Year’s Nutrition: Healthy Resolutions for the Whole Family

While the talk of New Year’s resolutions and self-improvement can be overwhelming this time of year, it’s still a great time to help children make goals toward healthy behaviors. However, when talking to your children about nutrition and health resolutions, take the focus off of food itself and instead focus on health, and not appearance. Not only will this help to foster a positive body image, but it will also help to assure the changes you’re making will be sustainable throughout your children’s lives. Here are some ideas for great, healthy family goals to consider for the upcoming year:

Plan more family meals during the week. Studies show that when families eat meals together, kids have higher self-esteem, perform better in school, and have better eating habits than families who don’t. Family meal times are great opportunities to unwind and relax with each other, as well as a time to try new foods together. You can talk about the taste, textures, and smells of new foods, and use it as a time to discuss where different foods come from. Family meals don’t always have to be dinner if it’s too difficult to coordinate. Aim for breakfast or even a weekend lunch if that’s more doable for your family.

Involve children in meal planning and preparation. Children take enormous pride in helping in the kitchen, and are much more willing to try new foods if they’ve had a hand in preparing them. Use this to your advantage and have them pick out one new fruit or vegetable to try each week at the grocery store. Then think of fun and delicious ways to prepare it together!

happy family with two kids making dinner at home
Stop using food as a reward, punishment, or bribe.
While it may seem like a harmless and surefire way to get your kids to behave, you could be doing more harm than good in the long run. By using one food as a reward for eating another, you may be setting kids up for future emotional eating, and you’re interfering with your child’s natural hunger cues by encouraging them to eat when they’re not hungry in order to reward themselves.

Encourage hydration, but cut down on sugary drinks. Kids can often confuse hunger and thirst. By assuring your children are adequately hydrated, you can be sure that when they say they’re hungry, they really do need a healthy snack or meal. Remember that juice, soda, sports drinks, sweetened ice tea, and lemonade all contain sugar, and even “diet” versions may not help with weight loss or be good for kids’ growing bodies. Pick out a special water bottle for your child featuring his or her favorite character or color; fill it with water, freshly brewed decaf or herbal iced tea, or seltzer with a splash of 100% juice to keep kids hydrated.

Encourage mindfulness. Remind kids to slow down when eating meals—it should take at least 20 minutes to finish. Turn off the TV and computers during meals and put phones away. Encourage children to listen to their bodies when eating and stop eating when they are full, instead of stopping when their plates are clean.

Most importantly, set a good example. Remember, you’re the best role model for your family. If your children see you enjoying healthy foods and having a good relationship with food, they’ll be more likely to have one as well, without you even saying a word!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Amanda Buthmann, MS, RDN, is a senior registered dietician and wellness coordinator at NYU Langone Medical Center.

6 Ways to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Happy_New_Year_2015As we embark upon a New Year and a new you, many of us attempt to carry on the ancient Roman tradition of reinventing ourselves through New Year’s resolutions. However, less than half of our ideas will come to fruition! So as we turn a new page of the next chapter in our new year, follow these easy and practical tips for positive changes for you and your family in 2015.

Make it a family affair with a plan of action. The most important tip for the New Year is to create a plan of action with manageable goals that are broken down into smaller steps. One of the biggest obstacles we face is setting unrealistic goals that are not sustainable. The grander the plan, the less likely we will achieve it, so focus on short-term goals and how you can accomplish them. Take note of your progress the first few days, and readjust your goals according to how difficult or easy it was for you. Challenge yourself and each member of your family with a healthy competition and set up rewards along the way. Tip: Positive reinforcement works really well with children.

Believe in yourself and your family. Believing creates an environment of positivity. Do not use your words against yourself or against others—kids are always listening, even when you think they aren’t! So stay positive and don’t allow “not” or “can’t” into your vocabulary.

Communicate. Communicating more effectively will enhance all of your relationships. Communication is more than verbalizing what you want to say; it’s also about listening and reflecting. Rephrasing what your child has said to you will indicate that he or she was heard. Avoid interrupting or being judgmental and show your interest in what’s being said to you. Give lots of verbal and physical praise and include family rewards for your group progress.

Don’t over-schedule your kids; there won’t be time to follow through with your plan. If you’re overwhelmed, over-committed, over-spent, and over-tired, it’s ok to say NO to others and focus your energy on where and how you need to spend your time. Don’t waste your precious energy on negative experiences and thoughts.

Teach forgiveness. Forgiveness is about letting go of resentment and negative thoughts that prevent you from moving forward with a healthy mindset and allowing you to freely achieve your goals. Teaching your children about forgiveness is a valuable lifelong goal they can set for themselves every New Year.

Gratitude. Have an attitude of gratitude and teach your children to begin and end each day with a “thank you,” and live with an appreciation for all the special moments (both positive and negative) you encounter in your life. Even if you didn’t achieve your goal for the day or week, focus on the lessons to be learned. Finding ways to become thankful for life’s challenging moments can make it easier for children to accept and learn from them.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

 Joe Taravella, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, supervisor of Pediatric Psychology and co-director of Psychology Intern Training at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Rehabilitation. Dr. Joe is the co-founder of Forward Footsteps, LLC, a publishing company with a focus on children and diversity, and has co-authored and published two children’s books. He has a specialization in marital and family therapy and is instrumental in getting individuals and families to reveal toxic secrets in a safe and effective manner via The Secret Box®. Dr. Joe also serves on the Board of Directors for Kid Angel Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps underprivileged children and families and states his best training has come from raising his “almost triplets.” His media presence includes television, radio, and print.