Though we’re a week into the new year and a new decade, there’s still time for you and your family to think about setting some New Year’s resolutions.
Even if resolutions aren’t really your cup of tea, I think we can all agree on working toward safer, happier and healthier families in 2020 and beyond.
Here are some ideas for age-appropriate wellness goals, based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and with some additional information:
For preschoolers any New Year’s resolutions you decide to work toward should be simple and easy to understand. A sticker chart or other basic reward system, such as saving “good behavior marbles” in a jar, can help them see their progress and stay motivated.
Some resolutions for your child to consider:
• I will put away my toys.
• I will brush my teeth twice a day.
This is also a good time to check your calendars and schedule routine dental visits every six months for all children, starting at a year to 18 months of age.
• I will wash my hands after using the bathroom and before eating.
• I will ask an animal’s owner for permission before I pet it.
• If I need help or am scared I will talk to my parents or a trusted adult.
School-age children (5 to 12 years) are becoming more responsible, independent thinkers and better decision-makers. Even at that age simple reward systems can still be effective.
• I will drink reduced-fat milk and water every day. Soda and juice are only for special occasions.
Milk contains calcium and vitamin D, necessary for good bone health. Sugary beverages are loaded with empty calories and have minimal nutritional value.
• I will always use sunscreen before I go outside on sunny days year-round. I will also wear a hat and sunglasses when outside, especially when playing sports.
• I will find a sport or activity that I like, and I will participate at least three times a week.
Exercising together as a family or finding friends who are interested in the same activities can help kids stay interested and committed.
• I will always wear a helmet when bicycling, skiing, etc.
• I will wear my seat belt every time I’m in the car.
• I’ll be nice to other kids and not participate in bullying. I’ll be friendly to kids who need a friend — such as someone who is shy or new at school.
• I will never give out my personal information — name, address, phone number, picture — on the internet without my parents’ permission.
New Year’s resolutions for teens embody many of the same basic principles we’ve already discussed but encourage more independent decision-making and higher-level thinking. And even though these suggestions are geared toward adolescents, many of them hold true for adults.
• I will eat breakfast daily and try to eat two servings of fruits and two servings of veggies daily.
• I will drink soda and juice only on special occasions, and I will avoid drinking super-caffeinated “energy drinks.”
• I will take care of my body through physical activity and will try to participate in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
If that seems too daunting, start with three blocks of 10 minutes each.
• I will choose nonviolent TV shows and video games. I will limit my screen time — TV, video games, phone, computer — to no more than one or two hours each day.
• I will be an active, responsible member of my family by completing my homework, doing my chores and helping around the house.
• I will help in my community through volunteering or joining community groups that help those in need.
• When I feel angry or stressed out I will take a break and find a constructive way to deal with my stress, such as exercising, reading, writing, drawing or talking with friends or parents.
• When faced with difficult decisions I will talk about my choices with an adult I trust.
• When I notice my friends are struggling or engaging in risky behaviors, I will talk with a trusted adult and try to find a way I can help.
• I will always treat who I date with respect and without coercion or violence. I will expect the same good behavior in return.
• I will resist peer pressure to try drugs or alcohol.
• I will not get in a car with a driver who has been using drugs or alcohol.
• I will always wear my seat belt in the car.
• I will not text while driving.
Hopefully these recommendations spur discussion with your family and you can tailor them to your own health and wellness goals for the new decade. You can help your child by being a good role model, staying positive and patient, praising good choices and rewarding even small successes.
Remember, a healthy lifestyle is a family commitment that benefits everyone involved.
— This article originally printed in the Jan. 29, 2014, News&Guide.
It appears with some updates.