The New Year – Looking Back and Looking Forward

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The New Year has always been a time to reflect on the past, and look forward to the future. The name “January” actually comes from the name of the Roman god Janus, who has two faces for standing at the threshold and looking backwards and forwards in time.

Take a minute and look back on your year with your kids. Start with the accomplishments they have made – big and small. Think about:

Academics (made it to regionals on her science project)
Organization (kept up with his bookbag the entire year)
Personal responsibility (remembered to feed the dog without being nagged too often)
Interpersonal relationships (often overheard him complimenting his little brother)
Physical changes (lost three teeth)
Spiritual growth (saw faith in action when she was kind when it was really hard)
Attitude (it really is a decision…)

Now look forward, and let your child go through the list and set some goals for the next year. Keep these things in mind:

Make sure the goals are realistic. If your child isn’t innately organized, steer him away from promising to keep his bookbag pristinely neat. Instead, purpose to clean out the bookbag each Sunday night.

State the goals as encouragement – and not criticisms couched as goals. Just imagine your sister-in-law telling you, “Why don’t you set a goal to keep a cleaner car?”

Let the goals come from your child’s desire for self improvement, and not the other way around. You’ve heard it said many times that you can’t change to please others, but only for yourself. Your child is the same. Be sensitive to the areas in which she would like to grow, and help her set her sights on these things.

While the goals don’t have to be measurable, determine how you’ll know the goal has been met. If your child’s goal is improving in spelling, you can measure it by grades. If, however, the resolution is to improve her attitude about chores, decide on a way that you’ll know she’s making progress.

Write down the goal. Put it on the calendar, in a notebook, or save it on your computer. You’ll want to come back next year and measure your child’s growth and progress.

Make the goal your own. Help your child meet their goals. Don’t (okay – TRY not to) nag, and don’t do it for them. But guide your child toward success. Because success breeds success. And may next January see you both looking back on progress and forward to even more growth!

P.S. After you finish with your child’s goals, set some for yourself. Do you want to be more organized? Lose weight? Get out of debt? Have more patience? Read the Bible through? Floss every day? Set your goals, act as a model for your kids – and have a Happy New Year!

About Kayla

Kayla Fay is a freelance writer and the mother of four boys, three of whom have been formally diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD. When she started “Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?” in 2002, her sons were ages 8 through 14, when her life was a “progression of dirty laundry, lost homework, misunderstood Algebra, and a whole lot of love and fun”.

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