Although New Year’s resolutions are sometimes seen as an exercise in futility, research shows that approximately 45% of those who make them are still sticking with them six months later.
There is nothing wrong with using the start of a brand-new year to turn the page on old health habits and create new ones. But while approximately 40% of adults say they make New Year’s resolutions, fewer focus on helping their children use this practice to initiate new health habits.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says this is the ideal time to encourage your youngsters to adopt new health habits that will stick with them throughout their lives. This can be a family affair, in which parents let their children see them setting their own goals for wellness, and encourage their offspring to do the same. It likely won’t take much encouragement, in fact, if you make it seem like a “grown-up” thing to do, and help to steer them in the direction of age-appropriate goal setting.
The key to successfully keeping New Year’s resolutions is to make them realistic and modest. Also, to not regard “slips” as a reason to toss out the goal entirely.
Here are some of the AAP-suggested resolutions for kids and teens:
I will let my parents help me brush my teeth twice a day. I will wash my hands after using the bathroom and before eating.
2. Kids 5 to 12
I will drink reduced-fat milk or water most days, saving sodas and fruit juices for special times. I will use sunscreen every time I go outdoors. I will try to find a sport or activity I enjoy and do it at least three times a week. I will always wear a helmet when riding a scooter, bike or skateboard. I will wear a seatbelt every time I get into a car.
3. Kids 13 and Older
I will try to eat two servings of vegetables and two servings of vegetables every day. I will resist peer pressure to try cigarettes (including e-cigarettes), drugs or alcohol. I will not text or use a cellphone while driving.
Your concierge physicians at MD 2.0 would like to add one other resolution for all these age groups: I will cut back on the use of sugar. While manufacturers and the sugar industry have done everything they can to help America develop a sweet tooth, sugar consumption has been implicated in such diverse illnesses as cancer and heart disease, as well as the better-known impacts of tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. In fact, this one resolution alone can go far towards helping young people lead healthier lives.