Question from a reader: making resolutions

Got resolutions?

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Dear Jay,

        What suggestion do you have for children as young as six and eight years old in making New Yearís resolutions?

C.R., Menlo Park

Dear C.R.,

        This is a topic many people talk about during this time of the year. I canít remember the last time I made any, however.

        For me, waiting until an arbitrary day comes along (like January 1), is a passive approach that is doomed to failure. If a change needs to be made, why wait to do it when the calendar changes?

        Instead of encouraging children to make a resolution for a calendar year, I suggest that parents and teachers help them to recognize that they will get much further in life if they adopt an attitude of not giving up, even in the face of adversity.

        As examples of people who have shown remarkable stick-to-it-iveness are:

  • Thomas Alva Edison, the "Wizard of Menlo Park" (New Jersey), who ran more than 9,000 experiments of running electricity through various combinations of materials before successfully producing the incandescent light bulb.
  • Wilma Rudolph, an Olympic champion runner whose legs were so crippled that she could not walk when she was a little girl. In her words, "The doctor said Iíd never walk. My mother said I would. I believed my mother."
  • Col. Harland Sanders, who retired at the age of 65 and came up with the idea of selling his chicken recipe to restaurant owners for the price of five cents per chicken that they sold. His first 1,008 sales calls turned him down. The 1,009th restaurant owner said yes. And even after two years of making daily calls, he had signed up only five restaurants. But he didnít give up.

        No, rather than exhort our children or ourselves to do anything Herculean, we can encourage each other to understand the importance of continuing to try our best at whatever we do, and never to give up in the pursuit of knowledge and making our dreams come true.

        Jay Davidson has been teaching in San Francisco since 1969; he teaches first grade. He is the author of Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents. He can be reached through his Web site at His column appears Thursdays in the Daily News.


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