Setting goals for the new year can seem overwhelming, especially for kids. While you may think of the usual suspects — play outside more, eat healthier, complete all homework, stay on top of chores and be kind to mom and dad — there could be another way to approach your family’s resolutions in the year ahead.
Sara Frawley, Certified Child Life Specialist at Florida Hospital Tampa, explains how Florida Hospital’s CREATION Health principles can set the stage for maximum wellness in all aspects of a family’s life — body, mind and spirit.
About CREATION Health
By embracing the eight pillars of Choice, Rest, Environment, Activity, Trust, Interpersonal relationships, Outlook and Nutrition, families can be more empowered to live more fulfilling and productive lives.
“Parents can sit down and go through each principle, and kids can pick their goals for each week or month, trying out different things. It can be a fun and healthy activity to explore interests and boost kids’ autonomy,” says Frawley.
So, are you ready to create a CREATION-focused new year for your family? To get you started, Frawley shares her tips.
Choice helps establish control over your life through conscious decision making.
“At the hospital, we give our pediatric patients choices to make in their day; they can choose what they want to eat for meals and what activities they want to engage in,” says Frawley.
At home, she says that choice can apply to kids making their own decisions about what book they want to read before bed, what clothes they want to wear for the day, or helping to pick what they want to eat for breakfast or put in their school lunch.
For older children and teens, choice can also extend to bigger conversations about life decisions that may affect their future, such as choosing social groups, friends, schools and recreational activities.
And when it comes to making resolutions, allowing kids to select their own can make a big impact, increasing motivation and the sense of accomplishment when their goals are achieved.
Rest rejuvenates the whole person and can even lower blood pressure and reduce stress. For kids, downtime fosters healthy growth and development. “Kids need proper amounts of daily rest and sleep at night to support their bodies and minds, physically and mentally,” says Frawley.
She continues, “Rest can also include building a routine to have some relaxation time throughout the day or scheduling a regular family movie night. Even if it’s just for 30-minutes, a little bit of quiet time can go a long way to improve a child’s well-being.”
“At the hospital, we have a two-hour window every afternoon that is designated for rest. The hallway lights dim, we encourage minimal visits and we make this a quiet time for kids and their families — it gives their bodies an opportunity to rejuvenate and heal.”
This pillar encourages creating pleasant surroundings that energize the senses and support inner peace and happiness.
“Help kids set goals to get outside in the fresh air, which is good for their health and also encourages the activity pillar,” says Frawley.
“In the hospital, we focus on creating a healing yet fun environment for kids that supports their normal development and positive coping strategies.”
She adds that this pillar can also be a message to parents to foster safe, age-appropriate environments for their kids. “Unfortunately, we see swallowing incidents often at the hospital. Kids are so curious and tend to get into things that an adult might not even consider a danger.”
She offers a good example for how to screen toys and objects for safety: If a toy or object can fit through the inner space of a toilet paper roll, it’s too small. Scan your home for potentially dangerous objects, and always following the age recommendations on toys.
This can also be a learning opportunity for kids. Explain to children what is and isn’t safe. If an older child has a younger sibling in the house, encourage the big sister or brother to go on a scavenger hunt with you to find and remove things that might be harmful.
Activity can strengthen the body, improve the mind and energize the spirit. “For kids, activity is often natural, but it can take many forms, like organized extracurricular activities, free play, outdoor play and team sports,” says Frawley.
Kids can relate to one another and adults through play, so it’s a great tool to help them understand more complex ideas or concepts, or boost their comfort in talking about their thoughts and emotions.
“In the hospital, we integrate play into every child’s treatment plan; we have so many options for kids to choose depending on their interests, health and energy levels,” explains Frawley.
She says that play is also a great distraction when less positive things are present, such as an illness, a hospitalization, changes in families or during other challenging times that could create emotional stress.
Thinking about how activity and exercise fit into your child’s daily life — and making goals to heighten this pillar — is important for the entire family’s well-being.
Trust promotes healing and security in your relationships — with family, friends, God and others.
So, encouraging goals that help kids built trust is a great way to help them feel secure. “Kids need to know that they have a safe place to express their emotions and have support no matter what,” says Frawley.
“At Florida Hospital, we can offer spiritual support through prayer or bringing in the chaplain to offer even more spiritual guidance.”
Fostering trust naturally puts the mind and body in a positive state. It brings more gratitude into the family’s life with a peaceful state of being. It’s a belief that inspires kids and gives them strength.
6. Interpersonal Relationships
Connections with others can reinforce success with each of the CREATION Health principles and nourish one’s health, head to toe. For kids, positive social experiences are critical for healthy development.
“Most families have very busy schedules, but it’s vital that families create a routine for scheduling the time for everyone to come together,” recommends Frawley.
This could be one night a week where you schedule a sit-down dinner, a regular family night, an annual family trip or a spontaneous weekend get-away. Take a proactive approach to getting time for togetherness on the calendar.
Your outlook creates your reality, so a positive attitude can strengthen your overall health.
“Having a positive outlook helps reduce stress and also influences your interpersonal relationships, healthy lifestyle and environment,” says Frawley.
But kids don’t often take the time to process their feelings, so teaching them to check in with their outlook helps them to build this crucial life skill.
Parents should be aware of signs that a child might be struggling emotionally, which could include a sudden change in behavior, regression (like bathroom accidents), aggression, not appropriately coping, a change in diet or lack of interest in activities that normally make them happy. And if you see these signs, it’s a good idea to talk to your child and get them the appropriate level of help that they need.
She adds, “It’s also important for parents to reflect on their outlook as well, because parental stress can filter down to the kids, too. Parents need to be fulfilled and take care of their health, so they are recharged and balanced for the family,” says Frawley.
Nutrition provides the fuel your body needs. For kids, this means a healthy, balanced diet that feeds growing and active bodies.
“Making nutrition goals together as a family is a positive activity that benefits everyone,” says Frawley.
You can also encourage kids to create their own healthy meals, try new foods, cook together and challenge them to find healthier alternatives when eating out.
And here’s where choice comes back into the picture. “Allow kids to help make the grocery list or pack their own healthy lunch, and teach them how to make healthy choices when you are not around,” advises Frawley.
And if there is a special health need, like diabetes or food allergies, you can make learning about food and choices fun. Don’t’ focus on limitations; get creative with mealtime and make it a family activity.
So, now that you’re on board, where do you start?
As a family, sit down and talk through each CREATION Health principle. Write down each family member’s goals for each area and put them in a visible spot, like the refrigerator or the child’s bedroom. Then, schedule time to revisit these goals to see how each family member is doing, adjusting them as needed. And most of all, celebrate and reward success with a lot of love and positive reinforcement.