January rolls in like a breath of fresh air. The calendar is reset and, in many regards, it is a chance to begin anew and an opportunity to do things “better” moving forward. The new year is also an ideal occasion for parents and children to come together to set fresh goals as both a family unit and as individuals. As you consider potential objectives for 2020 we challenge you, as a family, to come up with ways to make this a more meaningful, more impactful year.
Start by gathering your household members and briefly reflect on how all of you functioned as a family the past 12 months. Ask each person to share some positives, things that you’ll want to continue to do in 2020, as well as things that did not go so well and will need to be improved upon.
Even if your family proves to be in good shape, there’s always room for improvement. Some ideas just about every family can incorporate include:
Argue Less, Talk More (and practice active listening): Open (or strengthen) the lines of communication between you and your children. Be sure to regularly cover the big stuff, including the dangers of underage drinking, smoking and other drug use, but don’t forget the everyday chats to know what’s happening in your children’s daily lives.
Eat Dinner Together as a Family Often (at least four nights a week, when possible): It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or expensive; it is the sitting down together and connecting that matters. Research shows that kids who eat dinner with their families not only get better grades, but are less likely to engage in teen smoking, drinking or other drug use.
Create a 2020 Family Goal List: Ensure more time for family fun by creating a list of activities you want to do as a family. Get active together, plan a road trip, or take on a new family hobby. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top, super time-consuming or expensive to be fun. The idea is to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company.
Strive for Balance on the Calendar: Staying active is essential, but try not to over-commit yourself or your family. Over-committing equals worn out, stressed-out kids and adults, which does no one any good.
Families are made up of individuals, and it is also important for each family member to set personal goals. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages adolescents to focus their personal goals on helping others through community service, taking more responsibility for their actions, taking better care of their bodies, dealing with conflict and stress in more healthy, positive ways, and resisting alcohol and other drugs.
As you talk through your family and individual goals for 2020, be sure to write them down, hang them up and refer to them often. This way, the goals won’t be forgotten when the novelty of the new year wears off.
Learn how to get the conversation started at StartTalking.Ohio.Gov.
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Return to the Ohio Department of Education’s Start Talking! webpage.
About Know! Teachable Moments
Everyone has a role in prevention. By reading this Know! Teachable Moment today, you’re doing your part to prevent substance misuse and create a healthier world for all.
Know! Teachable Moments are provided by Prevention Action Alliance with support from the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, the Ohio Department of Education and Start Talking!
Sources: Brown, Laura Lewis: Making New Year’s Resolutions with Your Child, PBS. Ellis, Kori: Simple Resolutions for Families, She Knows Parenting. American Academy of Pediatrics.