It’s that time of year. All over the news, social media, and in homes around the nation, people are making their New Year’s resolutions.
Whether they share them with us or not, teenagers also set resolutions. But in a world full of dangerous detoxes, quick fixes, and all-or-nothing thinking, it’s important that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge to set resolutions safely and effectively.
Making resolutions involves decision making and goal setting, both of which are included in the National Health Education Standards. The New Year is a great time to help kids develop these skills that they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
Here are the two most common resolution themes, as well as some resources and advice to help teens fine-tune their own.
The most popular New Year’s resolution every year involves weight loss, but when it comes to improving physical health, it’s key that we teach the kids to avoid black-and-white thinking.
Some of the most frequent Google searches every January are for crash diets and fasts, as people swing from the extreme of holiday excess to one of deprivation. This kind of pendulum swing can have a devastating effect on metabolism and set kids up for a lifetime of eating disorders.
Instead, teach kids to put a positive spin on their goals by focusing on what they can add to their lives. Maybe it’s eating more vegetables, or walking the dog every day after school. If their goal is one about cutting something out of their diet—sugary drinks, for example—have them decide what they’ll do to replace the bad habit, such as buying a new water bottle that they’ll fill three times a day.
This way, the goal becomes action-based and therefore easier to attain. See the video below for more ideas on making healthy lifestyle changes:
After weight loss, the most common resolution type is becoming more organized. Time management is a huge challenge for today’s teens, and they are well aware of its impact on their health and stress levels.
This is a great opportunity to help them recognize where they struggle and put a corrective plan into action. They may want to stop procrastinating, get to bed at a more reasonable hour, or improve their focus, but breaking bad habits—like Snapchatting when they’re supposed to be reading—can be hard to do. Luckily these five quick and clever habit-cracking tips will help.
Kids can also get the adults in their life involved. Whether it’s planning a weekly bonding adventure, or putting the phones away at dinner, every family has something they can resolve to improve. Have students check out this list of 10 Secrets of Happy Families and come up with some goals that best fit their own family.
You can also model these skills by setting your own school-based resolution and sharing it with your class. This year, for example, I’m going to get all of my projects graded the week that they’re handed in. It’ll be tough, but by saying it out loud, I’ll have classes full of little helpers to remind me of my plan and keep me in check.
For more information on modeling healthy goal setting, check out these 5 Tips for Teaching Kids How to Set Goals.
Amy Lauren Smith teaches Middle School Health at the Shanghai American School and has a passion for curriculum that is current, relevant, adaptable, and shared. This post originally appeared on Choices.scholastic.com.
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