If you’ve been wanting to talk to your kids about healthy habits for life, New Year’s resolutions are the perfect place to start, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The AAP has released a list of age-specific resolutions, for kids from preschoolers to teenagers, that you can encourage them to try. The group curated its lists after looking over the health surveillance advice that is usually offered to parents during yearly checkups for their children. Because they represent the “greatest hits” of advice and counseling, these resolution suggestions are also good reminders for parents.
For preschoolers, the AAP suggests simple habit-forming resolutions like being nice to other kids who look like they need a friend, cleaning up toys, helping to clear the table and washing their hands after going to the bathroom.
For kids between the ages of 5 and 12, the list is a little longer and more specific, from drinking enough water and being active to practicing safe habits online and reporting bullying.
For teens, the resolutions cover everything from eating enough fruit and avoiding drugs and alcohol to managing stress, practicing safe and healthy social habits and even volunteering.
One item on the lists for all age groups is talking to a parent or trusted adult when the child feels scared, lonely or confused or has to make a difficult decision. Some of the other resolutions were slightly tweaked to match the developmental level for each age group.
It’s a great idea to start having these conversations with children, even when they’re very young, said Dr. Gayle Schrier Smith, spokeswoman for the AAP. For example, a preschooler wouldn’t necessarily be expected to come up with his or her own resolutions. Parents can use this as a chance to point out what their child has accomplished over the year and how to build on that in the next year, Smith said.
These conversations also don’t have to be daunting or feel like a chore. Introducing kids to the idea of making their own resolutions also introduces them to the idea that they can create their own wellness, Smith said. Given the rapid pace of their lives, kids and teens aren’t usually slowing down to reflect on forming good habits, being a better person or becoming healthier.
“Life doesn’t slow down for parents or kids unless you make time for it,” Smith said. “Parents can create a moment for reflection and dialogue and kids can choose and take ownership of the resolutions they want to.”