A Simple Ceremony to Set New Years Intentions with Children

The New Year provides a fresh opportunity to set intentions. Intentions are direct conscious reflections about desires, actions, and relationships that you wish to manifest. The New Year provides a fresh opportunity to set intentions for the months to come.

Everything starts with an intention. I set an intention to sit down and write to you today. When I teach a yoga class, I encourage my students to set an intention of their choosing before the asana (yoga flow) begins. I often remind them the intention does not have to be complicated, or overthought — it may simply be one word.

I have found that I set the most meaningful intentions in yoga, or within practices similar to this, such as after a quiet meditation or morning reflection. My mind is clear(er) and more likely to be in a loving place. I also believe intentions are most powerful when not centered around “negative” feelings, such as selfishness, scarcity, or lack. I try to release these emotions and worries as not serving me.

Related: 6 Parenting Hopes, Dreams, and Goals for the New Year

Teaching children to set intentions is a wonderful compliment to encouraging them to practice yoga or meditate. I decided to plan a simple ceremony for my son this year to introduce him to the setting of intentions and blessings for the new year ahead. I have written out the plan below in case you and your family would like to start this tradition as each year comes to a close.

The ceremony could easily be adapted for children of all ages. My son, at the tender age of three, will likely need a faster more engaging ceremony to stay present, while teens may really enjoy a slower ritual.

A Simple Ceremony for New Year Intentions

Materials: 

  • Candles/ holiday lights
  • Sage
  • Special tokens from the past year (photos, trinkets, souvenirs)
  • Paper that dissolves in water. I found mine here.
  • A large dish of water
  • Chopsticks (or similar)
  • A notebook designed for annual intentions
  • Anything else you wish to make the ceremony special (to peak my son’s interest I am considering a special dessert!)

Ceremony Details: 

1. Set Up

This is the time to light your candles and set up the room however you wish. I envision dimming the lights some, playing some of our favorite music, and then burning sage to purify our ceremony space. During set up I also plan to build a tiny alter with memories from the past year. Over the next few weeks I “intend” to let my son gather items to use during our ceremony too.

2. Describe / Define Intention

Obviously easier for older children, but I bet the little ones will be able to grasp the concept to. You may find it helpful to describe an intention as a thought we have that leads to a dream that we have for ourselves.

3. Set your Intentions

As a family, and individually, take time to set your intentions for the New Year. Do you wish to spend more time together as a family? Do you desire to help your community? Do you choose to be more forgiving of one another? Write down your intentions in a designated notebook and then write them down on the dissolving paper. Take turns sitting in front of the dish of water to reflect on your intention. Place the paper into the water and then use the chopsticks to create ripples in the dish (this will help the paper dissolve). My bet is that your children will want to volunteer to do this, perhaps even after all intentions have been set!

4. Close the Ceremony

This can be done however you wish! I plan to start the tradition of sharing a special meal, sparkling (non-alcoholic) beverage or dessert, with my family when the ceremony is complete.

You may choose to keep reminders of your intentions alive throughout the year. This might be done with a photo from the ceremony placed on the fridge or by keeping the intentions notebook in a place accessible to your family. Encourage your children to check in with the intentions they set during quiet times and don’t forget to check in with your own personal intentions too!


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