Creating New Year’s resolutions with your kids

It’s that time of year, when we decide what needs to be worked on, make a resolution, and see what happens! In 2018, 53% of Americans planned on saving money as their resolution. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. So, is it even worth setting one in the first place and should parents encourage New Year Resolutions for kids?


Neurologically, our brains can’t tell the difference between things we want and things we have; your brain will treat the failure to achieve, the same way it treats loss. This feeling of loss creates tension, which is eased by the release of serotonin. Serotonin plays a huge part in emotional well being while dopamine plays a huge part in maintaining attention, focus, and pleasure receptors. These neurotransmitters can be essential in the brain’s fulfillment of self image; in layman’s terms– by setting a goal, your brain will initially take it as a loss because it’s something you don’t have. Once you start working towards that goal, becoming incorporated into your sense of identity, serotonin and dopamine are released to help move you forward and reach that goal.


When encouraging New Year Resolutions for kids, take their age into account.


During an experiment at Cornell University, students were given coffee mugs and offered to trade for a chocolate bar; many of the students didn’t take the trade… What happens when you’re giving the chocolate bar first and offered to trade it for a mug? The same results. Students were less likely to trade what they already had for something they didn’t– That’s because it isn’t about the object, The Endowment Effect, or the effect that occurs when we take ownership of a thing, place, person, or idea; “it” becomes incorporated into our sense of identity; and the more something is apart of our identity, the more we don’t want to let it go.


When encouraging New Year Resolutions for kids, take their age into account. If they set a goal and don’t work towards it, neurologically, loss is suffered; but if you help them to choose an attainable resolution, the more neurotransmitters will be released to help boost them along the way. When helping select a New Year Resolution for kids, the best practice is to keep it small and feasible for their age group [think hanging your coat everyday, or drinking an extra bottle of water a day], this way they don’t get overwhelmed and end up suffering a loss.


Need ideas for age appropriate New Year Resolutions for Kids? Check out Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Families featured on FamilyEducation.com*


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