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 

MAKE AIRPLANES.

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
  3. Be REALISTIC
  4. Get INVOLVED

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.

Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

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