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Setting New Year's resolutions for anxious children

By Kanjo
6 min
Last updated
December 31, 2022
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The New Year can be daunting for all of us. Perhaps you are moving house, changing jobs or getting a pet – whatever it is, 1st January symbolises change. For many, this transition period signifies the potential for personal growth and happiness. As such, they look forward to the fireworks, the champagne and the new calendar. For others, however, the numbers 01/01 are enough to strike fear into their hearts.

This is particularly true for children who suffer with anxiety and prefer things to stay the same. For this demographic, whose number is sadly growing, change represents an unknown, looming threat. Fortunately, us humans are pretty nifty at finding ways to structure some sort of order within the chaos around us. This ability to organise time, set goals and establish discipline is a terrific way to calm down the anxiety that many children face in December, since the unknown is transformed into the known and threat is turned into opportunity. Rather than avoiding change, it is embraced.

When it comes to the New Year, many people find it meaningful to formally construct a list of what they are going to do after the clocks have chimed midnight. We, of course, call these New Year’s Resolutions. Although generally used to feign an interest in the gym by adults, New Year’s Resolutions can be a fantastic way to soothe a child who is particularly anxious about what the next 12 months holds for them. But as a parent, it is not always clear how to go about encouraging your child to write down their goals and ambitions. So, without further ado, here are some top tips about how you can help your child set positive, realistic goals for themselves with New Year’s Resolutions.


1. Make resolutions together

If your child is super nervous about the upcoming year, you can’t expect them to think up and write down their goals alone. Rather, take the time to sit down with them and pick a few – it could be as little as one or two – ambitions that they think can achieve in the New Year. If the word resolution seems too scary, you can always call them goals.

2. Don’t enforce your expectations too strongly

So, your child is already anxious about what awaits them in January. Maybe it’s their upcoming exams, a play, or a sports event that has really got them stressing. Perhaps it’s just the fear of this abstract, unknown future time. Whatever it is, you should not add to their discomfort by putting too much pressure on them. Let them come up with their own goals and unless they are truly trivial or counterproductive – for example, nose picking is not a habit to be supported – you should offer unconditional encouragement.

3. Make it fun

Setting resolutions for the New Year becomes a completely useless, or even worse, harmful, exercise if it adds to the weight of stress your child is already feeling. The point is to organise, not to overburden. Although it may seem like there are few ways to make resolution setting exciting or fun, it is not necessarily true. We recommend adding incentives for positive habits. For example, if your child manages to read every evening on school days, let them choose the family movie on Sunday nights. If eating more fruit and vegetables is an ambition of theirs, blend them up into smoothies. With children, it’s all about the path of least resistance when it comes to forming healthy habits.

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