The New Year is just around the corner. As January unfolds it is a good time to think about changes we would like to make in ourselves. It is also a good time to teach our children about resolutions and the idea of starting the New Year fresh. Think of the New Year as another chance to get it right.”
A wonderful New Year’s resolution for parents would be to spend a few extra minutes a day just listening to our children. Really listen to what they are saying … or not saying. We get so busy with our day-to-day job of balancing work and family responsibilities that it is difficult to find time to talk to our children one-on-one. A survey by the National Council on Family Relations found we spend less than 15 minutes a day talking to our children without the interruption of cell phones, the telephone, television, computer or others. We can do better than that, folks!
Why don’t you try to spend just a few minutes every day this week talking to your children about New Year’s resolutions or doing a project? Making resolutions will help your child understand long term goals, the advantage of planning and writing them down. Start with some history. New Year’s is one of the oldest holidays. The tradition of New Year’s resolutions dates back to 153 B.C.
New Year’s Eve is a time for good luck rituals. They are different around the world. You can check them out at:
www,fathertimes.net/traditions.htm In the United States a kiss is shared at midnight. Many of us will celebrate at parties or watch the magic disco ball fall from the sky as we count 3-2-1. In the deep-south it is traditional to eat black-eyed peas for good luck. Others hold the superstition that their good luck meal includes pork. In Norway, they serve rice pudding with a whole almond hidden inside to bring luck to one person. In Brazil they serve lentil soup to bring wealth. A suckling pig is the main course in Austria for good luck. Dessert often consists of green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a four-leaf clover. When we lived in the Republic of Panama the partying went from dawn to dusk. For luck you HAD to eat pickled pig’s feet - not my favorite. If you don’t already have one, maybe your family could start their own family tradition for New Year’s. The children could make name place cards for the table or color paper placemats.
Do not take for granted that your children know what resolutions really are. Remember you are their first teacher. A resolution is a promise. It is a promise you make to yourself. There are three kinds of resolutions:
•One we do only for ourselves;
•One may involve family and friends;
•The last involves the outside world.
Spend 15 minutes with your children and list one resolution for each of these areas. Write them down, then sign them and post them on the refrigerator. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggest thinking about some healthy resolutions such as: brush my teeth twice a day, wear a bicycle helmet, be nice to other kids, help out in my community, and resist peer pressure. For a full list, Google: AAP-20 Healthy New Years Resolutions for Kids.
Do the activities with your children and make a few resolutions for yourself. Usually health and fitness top the list for adults. To prevent failure take small baby steps. Instead of declaring you are going to stop smoking today, challenge yourself to search for support or smoke one less cigarette everyday. In addition, millions of Americas will pledge to get out of debt in 2013, but they need to start with a simple, workable budget. Promise to learn something new. Learning a new skill just may be your safety net in a time of layoffs. Check out Workforce One for some ideas. Butler Tech offers many classes for those thinking about a career change. A non-selfish resolution is to volunteer. It can take many forms. There are so many non-profit agencies that need your help. It can be as simple as donating clothing or furniture you no longer need. Maybe you could volunteer at a school or mentor a child. Or, volunteer at your place of worship.
Take some time to think about how you will use your daily moments to “catch your child being good.”
Then reach out your arm and pat yourself on the back for doing the best you can. That is a great New Year’s resolution! You will be a winner in 2013.
Kathy Green is the extension educator for family and consumer sciences and DLS coordinator for the Development of Living Skills program. The Ohio State University Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University with local offices in each of Ohio’s eighty-eight counties.