New Year’s Resolutions For Toddlers and Kids

We live in a society full of instant gratification, big technology, and heck of a lot of people who enjoy free handouts. This is the perfect time of year to talk with our kids about making changes and working toward bettering the world. Making a resolution for the New Year (or several) can be done younger than you would think.  Toddlers may not grasp the concept completely, but children learn by example.  Working on goals yourself that involve your toddler will help build the foundation for the traits you would love your child to possess.

Toddlers Resolutions: (To be helped and demonstrated daily by parents)

Resolutions are not meant to be drilled into your toddler.  There are no repercussions or discipline that needs to occur to instill these tasks.  There is only love and positive examples that must be set. Celebrate the successes and the mistakes, because without the mistakes, there is little joy in the achievements.  

Cleaning Up Toys.   Kids don’t magically keep their rooms clean, put things away, rehang their bath towel unless they are shown and taught that these motions are part of daily life.  The key here is not to make this a tedious chore.  It needs to be just as fun as the act of playing with the toys was; give plenty of warning before clean-up begins.  Make sure that you have a happy attitude about the act, and don’t force your child to participate.  Throw soft toys into the basket and pretend it’s a game, take special care of dolls and lay them down for a nap, and talk through your actions as you do so.  You don’t need to “tell” your toddler how to clean up, just have fun doing it and she will get the point!  Some kids have no interest and it will take quite a while before they start helping, BUT they are watching and soaking it in – whether you believe so or not. *One Toy Out At A Time Rule:  This is a rule that I have had in place since my oldest was a toddler.  I will admit that I am type A, and a bit OCD at times (insert laughter from my friends here).  I like my house to look like adults live there too – not just children.  Toys are part of parenthood, and I LOVE that, but I also like them to have their place.  This rule is loosely followed (With so many kids, everything is loosely followed in our home).  But, after you are done with something, it goes back before you pull something else out.  Don’t let me kid you, my basement and kid living room often looks as though a tornado has blown through (and that is OK!) BUT my kids understand that it is a lot harder to clean up at that point than if they would have done it along the way! Taking Plates to the Sink.  This is often a lot of fun for toddlers!  Granted, normally a mess is made in the process, but they are learning so much by carrying the dishes themselves.  This leads to helping with bubbles in the sink and “washing” dishes, even unloading the dishwasher! Make the Bed. Again, your toddler won’t be making her own bed anytime soon, BUT she can help you pull a sheet and throw a pillow! Share with Others.  This is not my favorite wording, as I don’t believe that toddlers can understand the concept of sharing.  Research shows that the neurons of the brain that tell a child “It’s ok, you will get that back” aren’t developed until closer to age 4.  So a toddler that doesn’t share is perfectly acceptable.  But you can set the example of sharing with others in front of her.  You can also allow her to pick toys that she does NOT want others to play with and put them up in a safe place before a playdate occurs.  Even though sharing might not yet occur, kindness can.  Have your toddler practice kindness by tell a friend “I’m playing, but you can have it next.” Be Imperfect. Let your tot be a tot! Mistakes are learning moments (For adults too!) Please let the goofiness, and craziness that is a toddler not be lost.  Let her pull out your silly-side too!  When you make a mistake, yell at your toddler, say something hurtful, or just have a crap parenting (or life) moment, apologize.  Not just a simple, “I’m sorry” but eye contact, a hug, and a real conversation. Breathe Through Hard Moments.  Having a sensory child, I have had to learn how to do this myself.  Toddlers do not process life like adults do.  Things are not fair, things are hard, things are not just things to toddlers.  Tantrums and hard moments are developmentally on point, but dealing with them is harder to figure out.  Pick her up and just take deep breaths.  After a few moments, see if she can start “Blowing out birthday candles” with her breath too.

Children’s Resolutions:  (Again, parents teach by demonstration and living these resolutions as their own.)

Be Kind and Find Kindness.   There are crappy moments all the time.  Our children experience their version of these each day.  It’s hard not to give in and become defensive, hateful, or resentful (Raising my hand on the defensive note*), but there is always a way to be kind or find kindness in a situation.  There is no way that your child (or you) will do this every time, but talking through situations together will enable your child (and yourself, you’d be surprised) to see the situation in a different light. Make New Friends. Your child could make all the difference to another child, just by including him.  Learning to find the beauty in new friendships is a life skill your child will carry throughout adulthood. Offer Help.  Boy and girls can hold doors for others, help carry groceries, and hug a sad friend.  Just as I noted with toddler resolutions, you cannot drill this into your child through unkind looks, discipline or hurtful words.  Being helpful comes from a kind heart.  Demonstrate kindness to your child and others, and watch your child fill your shoes. Make Mistakes, but Apologize.  Setting your child up to be perfect is setting them up for heartache and failure (ask me how I know this).  We ALL make mistakes. We all do stupid things that we regret.  Talk about them, be embarrassed, and explain how much you have learned.  Establishing this relationship is vital in parenthood.  Your child will want to come to you when she makes a mistake.  She will also know in her heart how to apologize and when it is appropriate. Try New Foods.  I threw this one in because, well, because kids can be a pain in the rear at the dinner table.  Have your child help pick a new food or recipe to try; she can help cook and set the table too.  The lesson here is that she doesn’t have to love the new food, but she does need to try it!  A few bites worth anyway; one bite isn’t enough for anyone to know if they like something. Do Something a Little Scary.  Try to skateboard, a rollercoaster, jumping off the diving board.  Bravery comes in little actions with big results! Be a Kid.  Get dirty, use imaginative play every day, believe in magic, love deeply, and see things through young eyes.  As parents, we are always expecting our children to act a certain way or perform or achieve something.  Our children are just that: CHILDREN.  Do not shorten their childhood.  Encourage dirt and fort building.  Play with them, I promise that a little dirt won’t hurt. us

May you and your child(ren) have a wonderful 2018 together!

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