Happy New Year!!!!!
The start of the new year can be filled with both excitement and angst as you think about all that you would like to change in you and your family’s lives.
When developing your family’s new year resolutions, be prudent. A complete overhaul of current household rules will likely cause more stress to implement than it will be worth. Instead, I recommend identifying three to four areas on which to focus your efforts. These should be areas in which you can make small adjustments that will lead to much deeper, longer lasting changes within the family unit. The following outlines sample target areas that can be easily implemented and helpful for any family.
Opportunities to grow: Start making changes in your family by giving your children new responsibilities and opportunities for growth. Identify areas where you are completing tasks for your children that they can begin to have control over. All children seek developmentally appropriate ways to exert power and control. They will feel more successful and confident when they are able to successfully navigate a task independently. When each member of the family feels confident and successful, this leads to a family that is harmonious as a whole.
Opportunities to listen: Schedule consistent “date days” with your child. “Date days” give you a chance to get to know what is happening in your child’s world. These “dates” can last for one, two, or several hours; what really matters is that you create time for focused, 1-to-1 bonding with your child on a regular basis.
During this focused time with your child, I highly recommend that you take the role of intentional listener. Being an intentional listener means truly listening with the intent of understanding, not with the intent of being right or having a specific response. Ask follow-up questions that align with what your child is talking about, rather than with your agenda as a parent. When you employ intentional, active listening, it becomes easier for your child to open up to you because they feel seen and heard. Your goal here is to have open and positive communication with your child.
Opportunities to connect: During adolescence, many children begin to isolate, seek peer attention, and yearn for more autonomy and independence. These are all necessary developmental behaviors but can be frustrating at times. To survive this stage, make an effort to remain relevant in your child’s life. A simple way to do this is by maintaining a common interest with your child (shopping, golf, cooking, music, etc). Remaining relevant through these shared interests gives you a way to stay connected, which will in turn make it easier for your child to feel comfortable, trusting, and open with you during hard times.
No matter the changes and adjustments that you resolve to make, as you contemplate your family’s new year resolutions, remember to identify the “why” behind these actions. Why do you feel the shift is important for the family as a whole? Identifying the “why” allows you to develop a creed, or commitment, to something that rings true deep inside of you. When challenges arise, you will have this to come back to as a grounded mechanism.
Remember that in order to stick with whatever you decide to do, your plan will need to be realistic and your goal attainable. Be consistent. Celebrate the small victories as you aim toward your desired outcomes. You and your family’s breakthrough is on its way!
If you and/ or your family are looking to further explore how you can develop a strategic plan that will aid in a more harmonious family dynamic, please feel free to contact me.