Why Positive Resolutions Work Better for Kids (and Adults)!

Posted by: Lauren Marciszyn

Losing weight is among the most popular American resolutions when it comes to celebrating a New Year. It also has an 80% failure rate by the second week of February.

Teen girl and two boys huddling with Y basketball coach in gym.

Psychologists offer a number of reasons why “losing weight” is often unsuccessful, including that the phrase is not optimistic—it is a negative rather than positive resolution.

For example:

Negative Resolutions Positive Resolutions
Lose 20 lbs. by June Become more active, train for Half Marathon in June
Eat less junk food

Grocery shop for healthy snack options, like carrots

Quit drinking soda/pop

Carry water bottle, drink 100 oz. daily

Applying a positive mindset to resolutions increases the chance of success—similar to the way Y staff introduce Health Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in our afterschool programs and summer camps.

The New Year is a fresh opportunity for youth development staff to encourage healthy habits, with a positive outlook. Here are a few ways to help children re-set and achieve their full potential:

  1. Get them excited! Ask children in your programs to share about the physical activities and healthy snacks or meals they enjoy. Then encourage them to commit to these options even when they are tempted by less nutritious options or too much screen time.

  2. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals. These are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. An age-appropriate example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal may be: To drink all the water in my refillable water bottle by lunchtime every day.

  3. Spell it out! Encourage children to write their resolutions down and place positive reminders where they will see them regularly.

Remember that healthy resolutions for children are not always related to nutrition and physical. Completing homework, donating money, volunteering, learning a new instrument or skill, or practicing positive self-affirmations, are many ways that youth can begin to develop healthy habits.

Looking for more tips and support?

Have more ideas? Tweet me anytime @LMarciszyn.

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.