The new year means new goals, and every January brings packed-out gyms, drops in candy sales, and extra reminders on our phones not to procrastinate. No matter the category, there is always room for improvement in our lives as individuals, but have you ever tried making new year’s resolutions as a family? Children can learn a lot about self-discipline and the value of setting goals, and having family resolutions will help you all be “like-minded” throughout the year.

Try making New Year’s Resolutions a family activity this year. Sit down for a meal together sometime in January and reflect on the past year. Ask questions like “What are you proud of this year?” “What have you accomplished this year?” “What is something that didn’t work well this past year?” “What are some things you want to continue doing, and what are some things you’d like to change?”

Give each family member a turn sharing something they are proud of and something they want to improve. Parents, kids learn by example, so go first and give them a model! It can even be helpful to have everyone write these thoughts down – on a piece of paper or in a place the whole family can see it throughout the year.

Family resolutions may include taking a monthly hike together, playing board games twice a month, trying new foods, learning a new skill as a family, or serving on a regular basis. Try not to get too carried away with your list though; keep it realistic and practical. If your kids brainstorm a million ideas, ask them to narrow it down to just their top two or three.

Place a “master list” of the final family goals in a public spot, like on the fridge or on a bulletin board in the kitchen. You could even make a resolution box, write each resolution on a card, and pull the box out every couple of months to review how you’re doing with each resolution. Just make sure this time of review is not a time of punishment or guilt. It’s important to be flexible and understanding, especially if the child is making an effort. Resolutions aren’t rules; they’re goals. Children shouldn’t be punished for not completing a goal.

What your child needs to work on depends on your child, but you can work with them to come up with areas for improvement. If you (or they) are concerned about their diet, then encourage healthier eating habits for the child and the family as a whole. If your child’s room is a mess, try to help him make a goal of cleaning their room just 10 minutes a day. Is there a subject at school your child is struggling with? Help her decide to spend extra time studying that subject. Is he oversleeping and nearly missing the bus most mornings? Work on bedtime and morning routines to speed things up and make the mornings easier.

Whether you do family resolutions or just individual ones, keep these 3 tips in mind to set yourself up for success…

  1. Determine a simple, long-term goal… most people don’t achieve their New Year’s resolutions because they don’t see results fast enough. Be patient and give yourself time to complete your goal – you do have the whole year after all! Remember: think big, start small, and keep moving.
  2. Get motivated… Consider your motives for each resolution or goal, and turn to God’s Word to guide you. Meditate on your list of goals at the same time as you read the Bible, and ask God for the tools to help you carry out your plans and His. If you’re not sure where to start, try Philippians.
  3. Make time for God… Don’t let goals get in the way of the vital things in your life, and don’t let your busyness for God replace time spent with God.

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