Resolution making goes back as far as ancient Babylonia (2000 to 539 BC). The Babylonians would resolve such things as returning borrowed plows to their neighbors. In 153 BC, the Romans moved the start of the new year to January 1. January was named for Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings who was represented as having two faces: one facing the past and one facing the future. Early Christians picked up the symbolism and the tradition of making resolutions. They believed one should spend the first day of the new year reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to do better in the future.
If making resolutions is not a tradition in your household, you might consider starting the tradition. Making resolutions, particularly the right way, can be a wonderful way to teach gifted children to make realistic goals and plan ways to reach those goals. Here are some guidelines to follow for creating realistic and attainable resolutions.
Make a Specific Goal:
Resolutions often fail because they are vague and impossible to measure. For example, one could resolve to be a nicer person, but what does that mean? How would anyone know when and whether that goal had been reached? A better resolution would be to pay a compliment to one person each week. Another example of a specific goal would be to learn to play the piano.
Make a Goal That Can Be Reached in One Year:
This guideline is especially important for gifted kids, who tend to have quite lofty goals, often beyond what they could achieve in one year. For example, a resolution to learn to play the piano should probably be stated more specifically, naming a level to reach. Otherwise, a gifted child might imagine playing concert-level piano and becoming very disappointed at what he or she perceives as a lack of progress. Reaching the end of a level two piano book might be a better goal. Of course, if a child goes beyond a goal, that's fine. The idea is just to make sure the goal set is not impossible to reach.
Create a Plan to Reach the Goal:
Even if a goal is specific and attainable, simply stating it won't make it happen. What are the steps necessary for achieving the goal? In the case of complimenting one person a week, there might not be much of a need for a detailed plan. However, other kinds of details can be included, such as starting with friends, then classmates, but never strangers. With the resolution to learn to play the piano, the first step could be to find a good piano teacher, the next step would be to practice at least fifteen minutes a day.
Write Down the Plans:
Writing down the resolution and the plans to make it happen is important because it helps you and your child remain focused and will serve as a reminded of the resolution. It also makes the plan more formal, not just a passing thought on New Year's Day. Creating a plan and writing it down can help a child understand how to set goals and find ways to reach them.
Keep a Journal:
Keeping a journal can help a resolution-maker stay focused on the resolution. Once the New Year has passed, it's easy to forget all about the resolutions we made, but writing in a journal can remind us of what we had wanted to do. The journal need not be a daily journal; in fact, for some children, the journal could become such a chore that they give up on the resolution! A short weekly or even biweekly entry can keep a child focused. And the entry need not be very long, just even a sentence or two. Children who aren't able to write can either dictate to an older sibling or speak into a tape recorder.
Even the best plans don't always work the way we expect them to, so it's important to be flexible. Sometimes a plan that isn't working out as expected will need to be changed. Learning to alter plans is also good for gifted children, who don't always deal well with change. It's also a good lesson for perfectionist children, who always want things to be perfect.
Learning to set realistic goals and to make plans to reach them is a good skill for anyone to have, but it's especially important for gifted kids, who are often so used to getting things done quickly that they don't find the need to plan ahead.
Even preschool children can learn to make resolutions and plans to keep them. However, they may need to start small. For example, rather than resolving to keep their rooms clean, they might just resolve to do just one thing, like keep their blocks off the floor.