Family Goals

Families everywhere have been forced to spend a remarkable amount of downtime together in the past year. With schools and businesses shutting down last March, the modern-day nuclear family has never spent this much time cooped up in the house with the ones they hold closest.

The new year just beginning, and the season of making resolutions is in full swing. Why not try something different this year, and make some New Year’s resolutions as a family?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are plenty of family resolutions to be made in 2021; the Academy has compiled a list of ideas for families to try, depending on the age group of the children. Helping kids form better habits this year will not only benefit them and their mindsets heading into 2021, it can also help the family as a whole come together and hold each other accountable for such activities and lifestyle choices.

The Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents/guardians to guide children into setting personal goals, so they don’t feel as much pressure to meet them. Older children may want to set their own goals. If they find difficulty with coming up with resolutions, encourage them with questions such as, “What kind of things would you like to learn this year?” Or, “Is there anything specific you’d like to change?”

For example, parents with preschool-aged kids can encourage them to get into the habit of cleaning up their toys when they are done playing with them or helping clear the table when they’re finished eating; letting their parents help brush their teeth twice a day and wash their hands after going to the bathroom and before they eat; trying new fruits and vegetables when they can; and treating their peers and animals with kindness and respect. Resolutions for preschoolers can also include ensuring they can trust the adults around them and encourage them to talk to a parent or adult when they need help or feel scared or uncomfortable. Getting children into the habit of communicating their feelings adequately, showing them that they are part of a team in the household, and encouraging happiness and kindness in their everyday lives is crucial to the basic cognitive development skills being learned at this age. 

Kids in the 5- to 12-year-old range can set goals regarding healthy eating habits, including making sure to drink water or milk daily, saving the soda and sweets for special times. Encouraging safety protocols — wearing a seat belt every time they get in a car or wearing a helmet when riding a bike or scooter — is also a great resolution for them to uphold in the new year. Inciting online safety protocols, such as not sharing any personal information online with strangers, or letting adults know about a cyber bullying situation will help keep them practicing decision-making skills and stay on a proper moral and ethical path. Setting time away from TVs and the internet and dedicating that time to reading, writing or playing outside can help kids engage with the natural world and hone their imagination skills as well.

Kids 13 and older can set goals in regards to eating healthy, exercising daily, limiting their internet use throughout the day, and taking care of their mental health. When they feel angry or stressed out, they can promise themselves to take a break and find a healthy outlet to deal with their stress or anxiety (writing in a journal or going for a walk, for instance). They can also work on resisting peer pressure and staying away from drugs and alcohol or defying the urge to text and drive. Respecting their peers and the people around them is also a great resolution to start off 2021.

Parents can also set some personal goals for themselves. Goals such as spending more time outside, making sure to practice self-care, and setting a good example for internet use will benefit their overall mental health as well as the general wellbeing of the family unit.

It can be difficult for parents to accurately see the difference between taking care of themselves and taking care of their family unit. It’s crucial for parents to have those personal goals and resolutions that encourage them to set time aside for themselves. Parenting comes with all sorts of changes — physically and mentally — so sometimes parents can lose themselves in their children’s lives and neglect their own personal needs. Family resolutions bring the family closer as a unit while giving individual members the opportunity to grow and learn in a healthy, productive way.