Myth Busters: New Year's Solutions for Last Year's Problems

By Lela Nargi

There’s a lot of contradictory and downright erroneous parenting info floating around out there. We’re not afraid to tackle it head-on! 

This month, we turned to Brooklyn-based family therapist Lisa Catanzaro, LCSW, to help us bust three parenting myths surrounding the post-holiday season and all the challenges that lie ahead in the new year.

Myth #1: I can’t keep the New Year’s resolutions I make so it’s pointless to make my kids do it.

Truth: Even preschool-age kids are absolutely ready to make a simple resolution, and it doesn’t have to coincide with the month of January (although that's a convenient time to start). Choosing one—and following through with your help—can be a great way for them to learn about setting goals. That’s a life skill they’ll carry forward forever. Your child’s resolution could be to promise to practice piano without complaining, do homework straight away after school, or keep his room organized. The duration depends on your child’s maturity: one month for the littlest tots to a full year for your teen. Who knows, maybe their dedication will inspire you!

Myth #2: My children are too little to have to write thank you notes.

Truth: Formally acknowledging all those lovely holiday gifts received is another example of a life skill that’s well worth learning, the earlier the better. It’s important to send our children out into the world knowing how to express gratitude, even for a basic kindness. And honestly, thank you notes don’t require much time or effort. Even very small kids can sign their name or draw a picture in a pre-printed card, and you can address the envelope. “It’s just one of the social graces, like saying ‘please’ and having table manners,” says Catanzaro. “If we learn them at home, they become second nature to us as adults.” (Hopefully!)

Myth #3: We’ve gotten into a bad routine, but it’s too late to get my kid to change.

Truth: Whether it’s getting out of bed too early, playing too many video games, or talking back, it’s never too late to reverse a behavior in our children (or in ourselves, for that matter) that’s driving us nuts. Letting bad behavior slide is taking the easy way out, because changing it certainly requires time and effort. But, says Catanzaro, kids thrive when they are given structure. And despite their protests, they actually want their parents to set limits on their behavior. Make your expectations clear, be firm about what the consequences for not adhering to them will be, and above all, stick to your guns—without anger or frustration. If you’re consistent, they will be, too…eventually.