December 27, 2018

Last night, I started talking with my 5 year old daughter about New Years celebrations. We talked about seeing a fireworks show and then I told her that this is when people start making New Year's Resolutions.

What "SOLUTIONS?"  she asked

Not "solutions"  - RESOLUTIONS!

Explaining Resolutions to a Young Child

How do you explain the concept of New Year's Resolutions to a young child? I told her that Resolutions are things that you promise to yourself so that you can be better next year than you are this year.  

Better, how?  

Just something that makes you feel better. You can decide exactly what that means. Some people want to learn something new, get stronger muscles, be healthier, or just be nicer to people they know.

Her grandmother who happens to be visiting offered an example:

I'm going to stop drinking soda.  

That was a popular example of a resolution.

For ME, a resolution has to be POSITIVE.   It's not what you are going to take away, but what are you going to DO BETTER.  - Jen Taylor, LCSW, RPT-S & Mom of 3

So, your resolution could be to drink more water.  

Whenever you think about drinking soda, you are going to try to drink more water instead and that will help you to be healthier.  You don't have to be perfect.  And you don't have to do your resolution every single day.  But, it's something you work on throughout the year.

An Example of a 5 Year Old's Resolution

I could tell that she was starting to understand the concept. She thought for a minute and said,

My SOLUTION is to learn how to do more art with things that are not paper.  -Sarah, age 5

I was pretty impressed!  That's an excellent RE-solution!  

She continued to explain that she wanted to make art out of sticks. And also, just keep working on making art in general, but stressed the importance of using these non-paper materials. 

That is an excellent example of a New Year's Resolution that will help you be better next year at art than you are this year (because you will be practicing, trying new things and building your creative muscles) and it is something that you can do throughout the year. 

An Example of a 4 Year Old's Resolution

Not to be outdone, my technically older twin who is 4 years old, chimed in with his "solution" which was 

I'm going to cook dinner with you every​day!

He really enjoys baking with me, but has one recipe for Hawaiian ham sandwiches that is kind of his specialty. 

As we chatted about this, I asked him if maybe he wanted to learn some new recipes this year.  New things that he could learn how to do (and that we could do together) Yes.

I'm going to learn how to cook new things.  -Jackson, age 4

But, not all 4 year old kids are ready for Resolutions

My slightly younger twin son, said that his resolution was going to be to 


Ooh...that sounds like a hard one.  

Okay... I'm going to MAKE BOATS

Airplanes and boats, huh?  I'm thinking this one over and come back to him with, 

Sounds like you want to learn more about building things and making things?  Maybe we can find some projects where we can build some things together.

Yes, I'm going to build things, -Grayson, age 4.

Tips for Resolutions for Kids:

  1. Keep it POSITIVE
  2. Make it FUN

If your sentence has a no, don't, stop, or a not; then try to think of it's opposite.

Stop being mean to my sister becomes "Do Something Nice for My Sister Each Month"

Find things that they enjoy doing already and cultivate them into more intentional habits.  

Don't commit to something crazy (like cooking together every single day!) Be realistic about what you (and they) can achieve.

Now get involved! As you can see - their resolution becomes YOUR resolution as well.

They can not achieve it without your help.

Can you guess MOM's New Year's Resolution?

Well, obviously for me,  I plan to learn how to make art with things that are not paper, cook new recipes and build things!  Duh! (So thankful for Pinterest!)

But, in reality, what that means is that I plan to

Be more intentional with the time that I spend with my children so that I can help nurture their individual interests and our individual relationships - Mom

If you are so inclined to ask your children about their goals for the New Year, please share them with me.  I really am so interested in hearing what they have planned!

If you want to follow along with ways that I incorporate play therapy techniques and theories into my parenting and play therapy training, please subscribe to the mailing list.

About the Author

Jen Taylor, LCSW-C, RPT-S is an EMDR Approved Consultant and Certified Journal to the Self Instructor.  She is a therapist specializing in complex trauma, an international play therapy teacher and a published writer of multiple play therapy chapters.  Jen is the creator of the original 2017 Play Therapy Summit and many other innovative programs for mental health professionals.  Jen uses writing therapy, play therapy and expressive arts for her clients and for other mental health professionals so they can lead more joyful and meaningful lives.  Jen encourages people to try new things and create daily habits that allow for incremental progress towards previously unimaginable results.   Jen is a travel enthusiast, an avid reader, and a girl who lifts weights and runs for fun.  

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