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How to Get Your Kids Excited for the New Year, New Experiences, and New Opportunities!

Starting the New Year is refreshing, energizing, and exciting! It gives you an opportunity to start from scratch as well as create a new lifestyle or habits. Teaching your kids about the excitement of goal setting or starting something new can be a rewarding family tradition.

But if your kid is anything like my 7-year-old nephew who’s going on 30, then getting your kid motivated or excited to do anything is very difficult. They believe they are older, know it all, and too cool for school (I don’t know if that saying is still allowed but hey, it totally fit this description).

The next 4 steps are necessary to get your kid excited for the New Year, new experiences and new opportunities.

I. Understand what motivates your kid.

mom and son in the kitchen

I have a 23-year-old nephew and a 7-year-old nephew who are brothers. Besides their age difference, they are two different personalities that are motivated by two opposite approaches. My oldest nephew is motivated by rewards. He is excited to complete something when he is informed of the reward prior to completion. It fills him with joy knowing that after he is done with work, he will receive his paycheck that will allow him to travel. Although at his age he is rewarding himself, the point is that he is more likely to accomplish things when he knows what his reward will be ahead of time.

On the other hand, my 7-year-old nephew (as mentioned before going on 30 years old), is the complete opposite. He is driven by fear. I am not talking about punishment or words of discouragement but rather preventing an unsatisfied outcome to happen. For example, if his mother says, “If you pick up all your toys you will get a cookie,” he will not react or be motivated in any way to get a cookie or pick up his toys. However, if his mother were to say, “if you don’t pick up your toys we will not be attending Sophie’s Party next week,” at that moment, he begins to think of the all the fun he’ll be missing out on, who will be there, what kind of entertainment will he no longer be able to see. The fear of missing an opportunity drives him to achieve his goal, in this case, pick up the toys to not miss out on the upcoming party.

Jon Acuff, New York Times Best Selling Author describes these approaches as “reward motivation” and “fear motivation” in his new book, Finish – Give Yourself the Gift of Done (highly recommended). When describing reward motivation, Acuff states, “They are wired to approach the reward that accomplishing a certain goal will generate. The positive outcome is what drives them.” However, when discussing fear motivation, he writes, “They are not motivated by what could be if they acted, they are driven by what won’t be if they don’t.” While in this book Acuff is discussing tools to no longer leave a goal unfinished, he emphasizes that “Failing to recognize what is “fun” or motivating is a big part of why goals often fail.”

II. Allow your child to pick their goals.

Kids of all ages are aware of their likes and dislikes. Asking them what they would want their new year goals to be and supporting their decision allows your kid to build autonomy. They will understand the effort it takes to accomplish a goal as well as the strengths and challenges for each goal. You may feel tempted to give advice but during this refreshing new year, instead of stating your suggestion attempt to form the suggestion into a neutral question.

III. Have fun with it

mom and son having fun

When making this new family tradition, go with the intention of having low expectations. What I mean by that is allow your kids to be creative, leave if they don’t want to participate, or stay as long as they’d like.

“As humans when what we expect does not happen, we become cranky, bothered, and disappointed not only in ourselves (for expecting so much) but in others for not meeting our expectations. So I am asking you to lower your expectations and just be present and have fun. Noticed I said to lower your expectations because it takes the pressure off of being “perfect” and having no expectations almost sounds impossible.“

Reflect on the times you’ve had a great time with your family. With that in mind, think about what was happening in the background. Was there a specific station on, was the TV turned off, were you in a different section of the house? Once you figured that out, with fewer expectations invite your family to have another one of those days to get excited about the New Year.

IV. Plan Family/Individual Activities to set healthy intentions

family playing cards

Just as the bullet above, get creative and plan fun activities for goal setting. Take out some magazines, cut out your goals in pictures and place them on a cardboard or poster board, this is called vision board. Play charades or Pictionary and have the rest of the family guess what your goal will be. For the younger ones have them demonstrate with their toys what new thing they would want to do this year. Whatever you and your family decide to do just make sure to have fun and go with the flow.

By creating this rewarding family tradition that can be implemented any time of the year, can allow you and your family to create healthy and exciting goals and increase your chance of achieving them. If you enjoyed this blog, please make sure to like, share, or comment! We love for you to share your wonderful stories and thoughts on how your new family tradition was successful!