Help Teens Create Kinder New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again where we feel the urge to reflect on the past year and hope for all the possibilities in the coming year, and that often results in the all-too-famous New Year’s Resolutions. While it’s a great idea for teens to practice goal-setting, so often, resolutions seem to become a way that people punish themselves. Some people pick apart their “flaws” and try to change everything about themselves, while others create unrealistic goals and then beat themselves up when they fall short.

Today’s teenagers are struggling with mental health more than any generation before. Perhaps resolutions aren’t the best idea for adolescents who are dealing with depression and anxiety. In fact, many types of resolutions might make those challenges worse! If you are raising a teen, you might suggest that they don’t participate in this annual ritual at all. But if your teen really wants to set some resolutions, encourage them to set a goal that benefits their mental health.

We should all probably consider creating kinder New Year’s Resolutions for ourselves. Rather than focusing on diets, exercise, productivity, perfection, or achievement, perhaps we can set goals for the new year that prioritize self-care, connections with others, stress reduction, and peace. Talk to your teen about the idea of putting joy before productivity, making time for their passions each week, prioritizing relationships that make them feel happy, and becoming more in tune with their own body, mind, and spirit.

If your teen seems open to the idea of a resolution that benefits their mental health, help them to be successful with these suggestions from experts:

Tips for Goal Success

  • Be specific. Goals that are vague don’t offer a method for achieving them. Have the youth write down their goals and then define specific, concrete paths to reach them with deadlines.
  • Keep it simple. The promises they make should not be too hard to keep or used to criticize themselves.
  • Plan ahead. There will be times when you don’t feel like continuing towards your goal or when your enthusiasm gives way, so have a plan for how you’re going to pull yourself out of that lull.

Usually, teens struggle with making goals specific, so you can help them with these examples:

  • For the teen who needs validation from other people or who berates themselves with negative self-talk, set a goal to say three affirmations in the mirror first thing in the morning.
  • For the teen who wants to feel more in tune with their mind and spirit, set a goal to practice meditation or mindfulness for 10 minutes at a certain time of each day.
  • For the teen who is too achievement focused, set a goal to spend one hour every week on an enjoyable passion / hobby / interest or with supportive or fun friends.
  • For the teen who is anxious, set a goal to spend 20 minutes a day on some form of self-care or stress reduction activity.

If we suggest our teens create kinder resolutions, we will hopefully raise teens who learn how to set reasonable goals while also knowing how to prioritize their mental health.

Middle Earth wishes you and your teen(s) a very healthy and happy new year!

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