Healthy New Year’s Resolutions for Kids

Family of four cooking a healthy dinner together, at their home.

Did you know that having support increases your likelihood of sticking to your resolutions? Try to make healthy habits a family affair by including your kids in your annual tradition of setting New Year’s Resolutions. Here are few more tips from Stanford Children’s Health to help you stick with your resolutions all year round:

“The tradition of a ‘resolution’ usually involves an idea for a big change that is hard to sustain long term.” says Cindy Zedeck, director of the Pediatric Weight Control Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. “The key is to set yourself up for success with small steps, and then celebrate every small success along the way. It’s a process—and it has to be a positive experience if it’s going to last.”

  1. Set small goals
    “Resolutions usually set the bar too high,” says Zedeck. “You don’t meet the big goal; you feel terrible; and then you stop everything.” Instead, she says, start small. If you don’t work out at all, plan just one activity per week to start.
  2. Change your environment
    Your home is the one place you can really control, so make it healthy. Clear the clothes off your exercise machine and put it near a window. Get rid of some of the ‘red light’ (unhealthy) foods and stock up on healthy choices. Put your running shoes near the front door where you’ll see them and be reminded to use them.
  3. Have roles
    Establish a responsibility for every member of the family to keep everyone on track. For instance, mom’s job is to determine what to keep and what to donate in the way of all the holiday treats and cookie plates. The kids can decide which activity to do on the weekend. There are many roles, great and small, in a healthy lifestyle. Rotate roles as you go forward.
  4. Plan non-food rewards
    Make a list of the non-food and non-dollar rewards that you and your kids can enjoy when you achieve each small goal—a trip to the beach, local park or pool, a favorite board game, or putting tickets in jar so each success adds up to a larger reward.
  5. Use the buddy system and team support
    Encouragement and group participation is always more successful when it comes to sticking to those resolutions. Plus, it’s more fun to have a friend or family member making the journey with you.
  6. Practice simple journaling
    Each day, take a minute to write down what you ate and what activity you did. “Journaling builds awareness,” says Zedeck. “It helps us learn to think about our habits, the choices we make, and the goals we want to set as a family.”
  7. Get additional help
    When kids and families need more support, joining a program can be a life-changing step. Stanford’s Center for Healthy Weight provides resources, education, support and treatment for children of any age. This includes access to the Weight Control Program — a six-month program to help kids and their families develop life-long healthy habits. The program is now enrolling for January, with scholarships available for those who qualify. Call 650-725-4424 or visit weightcontrol.stanfordchildrens.org for more information.

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