Social media platforms are full of “good riddance” messages for 2020 – and hopeful optimism for 2021.

Need proof? Public polling shows that more people are making new year’s resolutions for 2021 than did in 2020 – maybe a sign that we’re all ready to welcome a post-pandemic life with more appreciation.

As we might expect, the most-common resolutions adults make revolve around healthier lifestyles and better money management. But what about resolutions for kids?

Resolutions as focus-builders, not “accountability”

If you’ve read our posts about gratitude and empathy, you know we consider these gifts fundamental to child development (and eventual adult happiness).

While your children may be too young yet for strategic, measurable resolutions like we might be making (“be in bed every night by 10 p.m.” for example), you *can* use the new year’s resolution as an opportunity to focus the family on behaviours that will help you all have a happier 2021 (and nuture your children’s healthy emotional development).

How to do it: 4 easy steps

1. As parents, agree on what behaviours you want to celebrate in your family this year. Do we need to be more mindful about recognizing how lucky we are? Do we need to express gratitude to others more often? Do we want to build the habit of doing good deeds for others out of the blue? You can choose one or as many as you’d like.

2. Download and print out our “Making happiness happen in 2021” sheet – one for each family resolution. In the box at the top, print out which resolution that sheet will celebrate. Post the sheets on the fridge or a family bulletin board, or somewhere everyone can see them.

3. Sit down with the kids and explain what your family is going to aim to do in 2021. Give concrete examples of what an achievement for your chosen resolution(s) might look like, e.g. “make a drawing for Mr. Williams across the street,” and explain how each time anyone in the family (parents, too!) acts out that resolution, they get to add it to the tracker. If you’d like, you can set a family celebration for each time you complete a sheet – maybe a movie night or a family cookie-making session.

4. Set the example, and watch for your children to follow your lead. They might not recognize their own accomplishments, and having you point them out and celebrate them on the official tally sheet will help build their awareness and motivation.

Happy new year!