Each year, about half of all American adults make some kind of New Year’s resolution. While their desire to lose weight, get out of debt or stop smoking is admirable, their commitment to keep them is not so much.

Unfortunately, most individuals who make New Year’s resolutions don’t keep them. In fact, according to a January 1, 2010 article in the Miami Herald entitled “New Year’s resolutions are useful, even when they fail,” 97% of New Year’s resolutions go unfulfilled.

For some people, making the resolution is more important than keeping it. The idea of setting a goal and working towards accomplishing it can be a powerful thing, especially if the goal is realistic. For others, setting goals as a family increases the likelihood of keeping resolutions. In addition to having the accountability to others, striving towards goals together can help you to achieve them.

As you approach the New Year and consider making resolutions, if your children want to make their own, be sure they are attainable and age-appropriate.

  • For preschoolers, making a resolution to clean their toys or brush their teeth without complaining each day is an admirable resolution.
  • For 5-12 year olds, limiting soda or juice, participating in an organized sport, being kind to classmates or committing to wearing a helmet when riding a bike are honorable.
  • For teens, committing to making a difference in their community, saying no to drugs and alcohol and limiting computer use or television time may be appropriate resolutions.

Before deciding whether or not to make a resolution yourself this year or to have your children make one, carefully consider your willingness to honor them and your willingness to support your children in keeping theirs. When you keep resolutions, in addition to teaching your children to set goals and to strive to achieve them, you are teaching them to honor their commitments and be a person of their word.