Right now millions of adults are making all kinds of promises to themselves about how to start the New Year. Everything from having better eating habits, to exercise, and spending less money, (now that we’ve maxed-out our credit cards with holiday shopping).
Of course, there are always a few exceptions; those handful of adults whose lives are in order, everything is just as it should be … they get to skip making promises to themselves that are nearly impossible to keep.
But here is a different take on New Year’s Resolutions. When you think about it, most of us make resolutions based on tangible behaviors, (what we do on the outside). But what about if we focused on what was going on “inside” for ourselves, and for our children, and made some resolutions around those feelings and internal thought processes.
No matter where you fit into the scheme of things, the New Year is a great time to sit down with your child and do some reflecting. Having intentions, and stating them aloud is healthy and helps make those intentions “real”.
In my family we have an annual ritual where we talk about what we liked most about the past year, and what we liked least about it. Then we talk about how it made us feel, and what feelings we would like to cast out of our lives, and what we would like to bring into our lives for the coming year.
You may be surprised with what your kids come up with. A friend of mine also practices this each year and was startled when her 11 year-old son said “I want to cast out so much worry” and another friend’s 14 year old daughter said “I want to not care so much what other people think about me”.
Both of these kids have been raised to be self-aware and were infused with love and praise that should provide a low-stress atmosphere, along with self-confidence. But in today’s world, being a child can be very challenging, even under the best circumstances. Kids worry about what they see on TV, what comes across their social media pages, what their peers think, they worry about their grades, about their athleticism, and a lot about what they look like … it is stressful!
Taking the time to ask them what negative feelings they want to rid themselves of internally is a great time check in with them, and find out what is going on “inside”. Then you can help them to work towards feeling better. If you go through this together, you can begin by demonstrating what you may want to cast out for yourself. For example, “I want to cast out being impatient” or “I want to cast out being in such a hurry all the time”. Then follow it with “I want to be more present every day” or “I want to be more grateful for the things I have in my life, rather than focusing on what I do not have.”
By having this conversation you are setting an intention, and by doing this with your child, you can help them to remember the things they want for themselves internally, and also help them to attain these emotional goals. You are also modeling for your child that no one is perfect, everyone has feelings and some internal negative feedback they want to work on – and it is Ok to share these feelings in a safe environment, with family.
Not every child will have something “deep” going on that they want to cast out, or bring into their internal lives – Remember the activity is not so much about the expectation of what your child chooses to share, as it is about the opportunity for them to share it.
So start 2017 off on the right foot by casting out the thoughts that drag you and your kids down, and bring in what will make you both feel more fulfilled. It’s a great way to start the New Year, and get a glimpse inside your kid’s inner-workings, while also giving some thought to your own.
Wishing Everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year! (Inside and Out!)