12/20/2013 05:22 pm ET Updated Feb 19, 2014

New Year's Resolutions for the Whole Family

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People have been making resolutions for thousands of years. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans made promises to their gods at the beginning of a new year. But despite our legacy of making resolutions, many people still feel pressured by them.

Setting New Year's resolutions doesn't have to be a daunting experience. It's the perfect opportunity to sit down with your children (both young and old) and have a conversation about how to set short- and long-term goals. It's also a great chance for you to model for your children how to decide what things in your life you want to improve and how to go about doing it. Here are some tips for making the experience rewarding for your child and you:

1. Be specific - General and vague goals often go by the wayside. If your teen says he want to "be healthy," help him spell out exactly what he means. Generate ideas like "drink six glasses of water a day," or "get X minutes of exercise daily."

2. Track progress - Using a chart with the names of your children and what they are working on is a great way to keep motivation high. For example, you can place stickers on the chart when a book is completed for kids who want to "read more books," or put a checkmark for every day the teen drinks his water.

3. Work together - Setting goals together is a great way to motivate each other and be accountable. Have your children set goals, but also set family goals. For example, "have one family movie night a week" is a great goal. Then, have different family members be in charge of making sure that goal happens.

4. Be realistic - Finally, goals have to be realistic. Someone who has never run a day in her life can't run a marathon tomorrow. Help your children pick goals that are within their ability and that are safe and appropriate. Young children can work on more healthy behaviors and better study habits, but guide them so they choose reachable goals.