Helping kids stick to their New Year’s resolutions

Here’s how parents can teach children to achieve their goals—and set them up for lifelong success.

A child’s New Year’s resolution to make better grades or clean her room more sounds great—until it’s completely forgotten in a few weeks. That’s why Kathleen Landerholm came up with a 2021 goal the whole family could get on board with: two new desserts every month.

The mom of two in Los Angeles assumed the dessert resolution would simply be a fun family activity, but it ended up becoming much more. “I think Ellie and Erik have learned how to break up a big goal into smaller increments and keep track of our progress, and they've been thinking a lot about how to structure 2022’s resolution,” says Landerholm, whose kids, ages 10 and 8, are now planning a family book club.

The Landerholms’ family project is a great example of how parents can harness the New Year's resolution tradition to teach children how to set and meet goals. “Just introducing kids to this idea—thinking about where we want to go and keeping our attention on what we want—is pretty useful,” says William R. Stixrud, a neuropsychologist and coauthor of The Self-Driven Child.

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