Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Can Your Troubled Kids Make A Resolution? Goal Setting for the New Year

By John and Diane

New Year Resolutions are part of many people's traditional celebration, but are troubled kids able to make a resolution?

New Year's Eve is a great time to talk about resolutions - which are, after all, just another word for "goals."  Sitting down with your foster kids and discussing where they think they'd like to improve themselves in the new year can be a great way to begin an open conversation about where their behavior needs additional support, and what steps can be taken to do that. 

They key is to allow the child to identify their own issues and to brainstorm together on solutions that will be followed up on with counselors, teachers or with additional support within the household in the new year. 

Make this a family discussion, preparing action plans for everyone in the family; we all have things to work on, after all. 

Of course, many of our troubled kids will have difficulty sticking to their resolutions, and may fail in spite of every one's best efforts, but does that mean the discussion of goals was a waste of time?  Not really.  Even seeing others in the family work toward their goals, stick with their plans, fail, and retry, will serve as a good example for the child throughout the year.

Give your child the very best chance to meet his or her goals however. If you have a support team (counselor, social worker etc,) get them in on it and make a concrete action plan that can get your kid excited.  Break down the goal into easy to achieve steps and mark successes on a calendar.  Set milestones and celebrate reaching them.  Don't lose focus or enthusiasm.

What do you think?  What are some of the resolutions you and your family are making?  Here are some more articles on making resolutions with your kids.

Parents.com:  8 Ways to Help Kids Make New Year's Resolutions

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  1. I do think its great to teach kids to set goals and work toward them. I think one way to help them is to set an example. I have found that it's best for me to make New Years resolutions based on behavior instead of outcomes and be realistic. Instead of I am going to get organized its I am going to spend two days each month organizing or I am going to spend a few minutes every day putting stuff back. Instead of I am going to lose weight it's i am going to stop bringing soda into the house or eat more vegetables. With the kids we can also focus on our behavior like I am going to work on ignoring when they try to argue with me.

  2. Thanks Tasha, for commenting! Great ideas, and definitely breaking down the goal into workable and understandable behaviors is key...either by making those behaviors the goals themselves or by making them the steps to achieving the goals.
    Thanks again for your comments
    Diane and John