Do New Year Resolutions Work? Parents? Kids? Teens?

Dec. 30, 2016 Update Now THAT’s what I’m talking about…

Teen Vogue has just released their 2017 New Year’s resolution playlist, and a historic lens of where the tradition came from, and given that I’m now a subscriber and newfound fan of Teen Vogue’s scorching truth-telling journalistic lens, it’s heartening to hear younger voices ringing loud and clear instead of resolutions FOR youth by parents positioned as media musts.

Several other youth driven magazines and cultural commentary are worth a “hmn” on critical thinking, from Elle’s fun flameout factor using good gifs as a New Year’s trajectory tracker of good intentions gone south…to a rather disconcerting take down of MTV’s very mild humor and satirical ‘resolutions for white men’ which was so flamed and shamed with offended angry intolerance/accusations of ‘racism’ and a disturbingly trolled comment section that signals a new era of Trumplethinskin that it vanished from their YouTube channel. Hmn indeed.

So let me get this straight, white guys regularly use media platforms as sexist bully pulpit purveyors who think nothing of misogynistic malevolence (GamerGate, etc.) as long as they’re not ever the target of even the mildest ridicule or rancor? No humor or irony allowed as it ‘perpetuates’ racism? That’s beyond discordant, it’s a ‘don’t rock the power’ cowardice that smacks of white supremacist rumblings and over-sensitive censorship which I find downright chilling and watch-worthy as we enter into this New Year of 2017. Heads up, people…we have a looooooong way to go in 2017 on the fairness front.

Original post:

There’s nothing more silly to me than reading TEEN resolutions that ADULTS have written…

I mean, c’mon, folks, let’s resolve to get real, shall we? Kids and adults may collaborate on what they’d like to see shift in their relationships, compare notes, strategize, or navigate personal goals, but trying to cram adult needs into kids’ heads (or vice-versa) is an automatic synapse jam.

Each year, AAP pediatricians and ‘experts’ offer their spin on ‘healthy resolutions for kids’ and each year I try not to spew my morning coffee at the arrogance of adult assumptions and school marm verbiage, even when worthy in ‘concept.’ I Googled the topic and almost every blog served up the same ‘expert’ banter in multiple variations set to different age groups and goals. Dare to be different, folks!

Thankfully, other articles involve resolutions for raising teens (see Anthony Wolf’s hilarious article  and GeekDads gaming promises in Wired’s blog)…rather than thinking on their behalf…

You might recognize Wolf as the conversational Ph.D. who wrote:

Get out of my life, but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?” (at left) a parenthood rite of passage. (Flickr credit: Jill Doughtie)

Some of my favorites from his resolution list?

“I will – just once – walk by where you’re sitting without saying: “Did you remember to bring the dirty glasses up from the basement?” or “Don’t you have any homework?”

“I will not keep noticing that you have that exact same look on your face that my ex used to get when he was mad.”

I will not use the phrase: “When I was your age …”

“I will not brace myself against the dashboard every moment I am in the car with you driving. Nor will I keep making those constant sharp intakes of breath.”

I will not use the phrase: “You just don’t know how lucky you are.”

Funny stuff and oh, so true…

MSNBC had a “10 Tips” piece on reclaiming family sanity which was solid too…

But TEEN resolutions? They need to stay in teen hands…

They’re unequivocally self-made and their own to follow…Now, as far as whether or not those resolutions work or not…Surprise!

Despite the Journal of Clinical Psychology (stats at left) and Ellen Goodman’s pithy column citing the veritable amnesia of teens when it comes to ‘virginity pledges’ and comparative youth data (see Johns Hopkins researcher Janet Rosenbaum’s interview in Time, “Do Virginity Pledges Work” ) there IS an upbeat ending to all of this resolution dilution…

Resolutions ARE worthwhile.

Clinical psychologist John Norcross (npr podcast here) notes those who make resolutions are TEN TIMES more likely to change their behavior than those who don’t!

Woohoo! So if your life’s not heading in the direction you’d hoped, it’s worth a shot, folks! Personally, I’m a diehard existentialist and believe in ‘grabbing life firmly by the lapels’ and owning your actions…whatever they may be. Goal-setting makes sense to me…

It helps me ‘lead from the mountaintop’ and look back down to ‘find the path of how to get there’ as my Women Leaders for the World/GWLN coaches would say. Seems healthy.

But what does goal-setting mean from a kids’ point of view?

Are our brains working on the same wavelength in terms of triggering maximized brainpower?

Are New Year’s resolutions productive pursuits or stressors? Serious challenges or shoulder shrugs?

Again, upbeat news among the research from my Google scans of teen blogs…(anecdotal evidence, but patterned for sure!)

Aside from the grammar and text-speak that popped up a considerable amount, and the anticipated hormonal crush-fest and bubbling high energy that surfaced regularly, resolutions were not all that far off from adult concerns…(parents can exhale now. 😉

The most common generational overlaps occurred with career, fitness and finance issues.

At left are all the usual suspects among adults and students alike, with common ground on procrastination and lifestyle issues, like:

“Graduate high school/go to college, eat healthy/exercise more, get out of debt/pay off my student loan,” etc.

Behaviorally, ‘bad habits to break’ veered less toward vices and more toward personality issues and introspection, e.g. :

“Be more bold/adventurous/try new things or “watch less tv/get out more” etc. Sure, the youth point of view and language was different, but the cycle-breaking and intent wasn’t that far off between the generations. Lots about applying oneself, lethargy, getting good grades/studying more, etc.

Here are a few samples plucked from youth sites and blogs that give adults a glimpse of what ‘resolutions’ mean from a youth angle…

From a 16 year old girl on the Yahoo Answers forum:

My Resolutions:

– Talking to that shy person
– Calling up a friend you have not talked to in a while
– Wearing brighter colored clothes
– Doing something good for another person even though you may not get the credit you deserve
– Living each day to the fullest
– Going on a rollercoaster that u were scared to go on last year
– Donate a certain amount of items each month
– Tell your family members that you <3 them more often (that’s a sideways heart in text speak, parents)

Another wrote:

Get that crush to notice you
Get your license
Try and not spread rumors as much
Kiss the person you’ve always wanted to kiss
Have an amazing party
Do something you’ll remember forever
Be more unique

A couple profound ones: (wise words at ANY age)

-When things start moving really fast, start thinking slow.

-Take care of your credit. Seriously.

Another wrote: (unedited/punctuation and spelling was pretty abysmal universally)

-“…Not to judge guys by there looks, find there personality, and if u drive not to get road rage! Lol”

A poignant one from a gay teen on GoLiveWire:

Stop internalizing and start compartmentalizing and setting aside the problems with my family, in order to feel better about myself and not have the emotion hamper my relationships and my work. Procrastinate less. Read more. Reduce negative stress. Sign up for only as much as I can handle, as not to overwhelm myself…”

The pop culture/media silo on the Tyra Banks Show was in full swing, though ‘Alishia’ writes a keeper:

“My new years resolution is to enter this new year without anyone’s drama…And to handle my biznass more and find a way to start helping my community.”

“New Years resolution of a teenager” from the blog in the Philippines, (at left) gives a media savvy snapshot from a webhead perspective of how different teens are engaging with media.

I’ll share their site at the upcoming Teens in Tech conference being hosted by 15-year old Daniel Brusilovsky and his business mentor Sam Levin on January 31, (interview forthcoming) as it’s a much more robust media immersion than I’m used to seeing from the teens in my world…

For example, in this microblogging post, the debate is “Twitter vs. Plurk” whereas I’m hard-pressed to hear of (m)ANY teens in my circles using either one…(global/regional advisors, chime in anytime; or sign up to be one for service credit!?)

In this post by Joseph Quin, he starts out talking about SEO tips and segues into theme: making resolutions personal, simple, unforced, non-compliant and independent of other people’s wishes/influences. (see what I mean? Bravo, Joseph, you made my point!)

And in this post by 17-year old editor Kevin Paquet, from Davao City, Philippines he vows:

“Play Less PC, play more in reality…
Dota, RF, and all the other games have really kept me away from the real thing, like basketball and soccer, and my physical appearance tells a story of its own.”

“Blog Less,
I haven’t really been actively reading other blogs that I would really love to read, especially lately, I’ve been too much into worries on what to blog about rather than reading the blogs of my friends and leaving a few sneak comments on them.”

“Spend Less, earn more…

“Love less, more serious…

“Sleep more, eat even more…

He elaborates on each entry with a sentence or two, and it’s quite obvious he’s dedicated to his studies, ready to graduate, and you can almost feel the proud emergence into a young man able to ‘go up the stage and march’ into life…but I noticed a few other global patterns/expectations surfacing in his last three items above too, pointing toward our consumption-driven, hyper-sexualized, appearance-based, culture…

…Almost like we’re witnessing the societal pressures being put on kids firsthand.

Okay…I think I’m beginning to slide into bias and ‘parent-projection’ muddying the waters of media analysis…So I’ll end here and just say…

If you want to have your New Year commitments succeed at ANY age…

...Make them real…

…Make them doable…

…And make them your own.

Visual Credits: Lead cartoon and graphics; from NewLeaf “7 Secrets for Making New Year’s Resolutions stick pdf”



  1. I especially like 2 of my 12yr old daughter’s resolutions:

    2. Brush my teeth everyday.

    I will do this by finding my toothbrush.

    6. Build a two headed snowman.

    I will do this by… well… just doing it!

  2. Very cute! See? They come up with the best stuff themselves. 😉

    p.s. My resolution is to watch using my Facebook account as a link hub to plop bookmarks I want to remember because tonight two of my friends said they’re getting every move I make in their feed! eep!

    p.p.s. Have you used ‘Plurk’ that the kids above are speaking of? (vs. Twitter?) Also wanted to give you a heads up that tmrw. (Sun.) there will be a Twittercast re: the Fem2.0 conference taking place in Wash. D.C. 2-2-09: Here’s the post:

  3. On the ‘apps teens couldn’t live without’ factor, check out 19 year old Sam Purtill’s amazing list which holds true (top 5 anyway) with our (older teen vs. tween) Shaping Youth advisory crew,


    GOOG 411
    Google Analytics
    Google Reader

    The top 5 that I will be using:
    1) Gmail
    2) Facebook
    3) Skype
    4) Google Reader
    5) Toss up between YouTube/Tumblr and Twitter

  4. Again, folks that was Sam Purtill, not me…

    (I haven’t messed with my gmail much at all yet…)

    p.s. If anyone has some great WordPress teen gurus, pls. send them my way…

    (preferably, not the over-booked 16 year-old CEO types, either…just plain ol’ normal kids with a tech bent towards WP open source uses and optimization.)

    Thanks, —Amy

  5. You’ve included pretty much everything that I would like to say, fyi: you misspelled my family name, it doesn’t has a C.

    Greetings from the Philippines,

  6. fixed! tx, Kevin…best, AJ

  7. Fun post, especially seeing what kids have come up with on their own. I love LOVE Wolf’s book – it’s my teen parenting bible and I recommend it to everyone!

  8. Amy, I’ve been thinking about resolutions lately… Do most people keep resolutions more than a month? Some say, “yes,” others, “no.” It would be interesting to canvas teens to see if they are still keeping the ones they set for the year.

    Robyn McMaster’s last blog post..Zoning Out When Doing Routine Tasks?

  9. Hi Robyn, Ironically, I just received this note from Cindy Loughran who I wrote about here: and she happens to have a session on this topic kicking in on Monday!

    Here’s what she had to say:

    “Remember your New Years resolutions? It’s February now. Are you living into new possibilities? Or… uh … did all those resolutions seem like a better idea back on January 1?

    Well, if you went into breakdown around them, worry not. It
    could be that you simply need to shift your energy. Please join me on a free call hosted by my coach and colleague, Suzanne Falter-Barns, on-line platform building expert. Along with psychic, Andrea Hess, we’ll be talking how shifting your energy can create great changes in your life.

    You know me as the founder and president of New Leaf Touchstone, producer of powerful intention bracelets (made by at risk teenage girls) which users charge with energy using a specific process. Then the next time they are tempted to use a self-defeating behavior, the bracelet helps keep them on track. My blog is

    Andrea helps business owners make the shifts they need make in order to maximize revenue and work on purpose. Her intuitive guidance works deep and creates great change in both your business and personal life. You can find her at

    On this call you’ll learn:

    * How different types of energy shifting can help move you
    through stuck behaviors and create change
    * Why we cling to unproductive behaviors
    * The best ways to move energy forward towards productivity
    * How to know when your energy is stuck
    * Best practices on maintaining a clean, clear energy flow

    If you’re committed to moving ahead on all fronts with your
    dreams, goals and business, this is one call you won’t want
    to miss!

    Date: Monday, February 9, 2009
    Time: 1pm Eastern/12pm Central/11am Mountain/10am Pacific

    I hope you can join us for what will be a lively and interesting discussion! You can visit Suzanne’s site here to register.”

    —Cindy L./New Leaf Touchstone

    Funny how timing on things like this comes into play, eh? (or is that our brains working at some sort of subconscious level?) 😉 Either way, sounds intriguing…

  10. Hello dear Shaping Youth Contributors, how are you doing?
    It’s been some time since you discovered our website and we haven’t really progressed since then, but we’re on our way back out of the slump after getting over your post again which we have written.

    Thank you again for featuring us here, it shall serve as the foundation of a new Pinoy Teens Online in the coming weeks.

    -Kevin Paquet of Pinoy Teens Online.

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