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New Year's is opportunity to help kids grow

December 29, 2006|by Lisa Tedrick Prejean

Whether it's a New Year's resolution, a new goal or a decision to avoid unrealistic expectations, most people will do some form of self-reflection this weekend.

As parents, we should encourage our children to take a look at the year that has just passed. If we ask the right questions, we'll not only help our children grow; we'll also learn what's going on inside their little minds.

Here are some questions you could ask around the dinner table as this year draws to a close:

What was the highlight of your year? What did you like best about it? What made this event so special for you?

What was the low point of the year for you? Why was it so disappointing? What did you learn from this event? Is there anything you can do to prevent it from happening again?

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What was the nicest thing you did for someone else? Why did you do it? How did the other person respond to you?

What was the nicest thing someone else did for you this year? Why do you think they did it? How did you respond to them?

What was the meanest thing you did this year? Why did you do it? How will you avoid this type of behavior in the future? Have you asked for forgiveness for what you did?

What was the meanest thing someone else did to you this year? Why do you think they did it? Have you forgiven them for their actions, even if they haven't asked you to forgive them?

Once you start asking these questions, you'll probably be presented with several teachable opportunities.

As you listen to your children's responses, don't be judgmental. They'll clam up if you make comments such as, "You need to do it this way," or, "You shouldn't feel that way."

Try to approach children as you would like to be approached. Be tender. Remember that children have not developed all the coping mechanisms that you've picked up over the years.

When they share with you about a particular struggle, tell them that you remember a similar situation. If you start out by saying, "This is what worked for me," they'll be more apt to listen.

Talk about your triumphs and downfalls. Admit that you have made mistakes this year and share what you've learned from those mistakes. Tell your children stories about what happened to you and the circumstances surrounding the events. They will learn more from your honesty than from a front you put on because you are The Parent.

Talk about your search for answers. What did you really want to learn at work? How did you find the information? Who helped you? What resources did you use?

How did you handle your personal relationships this year? Were you kind? Were you dependable? Did you challenge those around you to strive for excellence, even in the little things?

What goals have you set for yourself this year? What family goals have you made? What would you like to see each child achieve?

If you set goals together and create a time when you can meet on a regular basis to evaluate progress, you and your children will have a greater chance for success. Goals without accountability rarely are achieved. Just as we adults need someone to check in on our progress, children need that encouraging, motivating factor as well.

Be sure to write down what you decide on and keep the list in an easily accessible place. You can refer to it often and make changes as the year progresses. If you make notes on the list monthly, you will be surprised next year at this time by how far you've come as a family.

You'll also be surprised at how the common goals have created a stronger bond with those you love. Now there's a resolution worth keeping.




Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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