What’s on your list of New Year’s resolutions this year? Exercise more? Eat better? Read more?
These are all great resolutions—which is why many of us list them year after year, and abandon them within weeks.
Instead, why not limit your New Year’s resolutions to actions that can have a dramatic impact on your family life? When you put your effort into meaningful goals that will benefit your household, you can have a profound effect on family relationships, organization and teamwork in the year ahead.
Following are the top three ways you can make a huge difference in your kids’ behavior and your family dynamics. You’ll see success right away, which means you’re more likely to stick with them throughout the year (and beyond).
New Year’s Resolution #1: Commit to spending one-on-one time each day with each child. If you make just one resolution this year, this is the most important one! Spending just 10 minutes per day of uninterrupted, one-on-one time with each of your children builds emotional connections, reduces negative behaviors, and makes children more cooperative throughout the day.
Be sure you’re fully present during that time – silence your Blackberry and try to ignore the to-do list in your head so your kids know they’re your top priority.
New Year’s Resolution #2: Improve routines. Revisit your morning, after-school, and bedtime routines. Are your kids refusing to brush their teeth, or constantly forgetting their lunchboxes or backpacks? It may be time to work as a family to implement some improved methods.
The most effective type of routine is a “When-Then” routine, which places a desirable activity (snacktime, TV time) at the tail end of a list of undesirable, but necessary, activities. And it’s always phrased the same way. For instance, you can inform your kids that “When the yucky stuff is out of the way (make bed, get dressed, tidy room) then breakfast is served.” Or, when your homework is done, lunch box cleaned out and backpack ready and by the door for the next day, then you can go out and play with your friends. Post the new routines in strategic places so your kids won’t forget, and you won’t have to remind them.
New Year’s Resolution #3: Get everyone helping around the house. Resolve that this year will be the year you stop doing all the heavy lifting with the housework! Each of your children should be required to shoulder some age-appropriate, meaningful responsibilities that contribute to the family’s daily life. Start by holding a family meeting to make a list of all the jobs that must be done weekly and decide how to divide the workload.
Not only will you get some much-needed help, you’ll also teach a valuable lesson: the family is a “team” and without everyone’s participation, the team can’t function successfully. If you are enrolled in the Positive Parenting Solutions Online course, look for ways that toddlers to teens can contribute to the family in the “Jobs for Kids by Age” list in Session 2.
With a few changes, you can make the New Year brighter for everyone—with positive effects that will last a lifetime.
By AMY MCCREADY