As the year ends, everyone’s attention quickly turns from Christmas to New Year's resolutions, and we are bombarded with talk of getting fitter, happier and healthier. There is always room for improvement, and January is a great time to endeavor to be a better version of yourself.

However, New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be confined to you. They can in fact become a family affair! As your kids grow up there are huge benefits to teaching them how to set their own resolutions—it teaches them goal-setting and planning, and can strengthen the family unit as a whole.

Here are some tips on teaching your kids how to set New Year’s resolutions:

Start with a family meeting

Making resolutions with your children can be fun and exciting—a time for growth, change, and family bonding. I recommend that the first thing you do with your kids is to sit down and have a casual family meeting where you ask open-ended questions such as:

  • What do you love about our family?
  • What bothers you about our family?
  • What do you wish we did more of?
  • What will make your life better and happier?

In my coaching practice I often hear the same complaints over and over again, ranging from lack of sleep, discipline and time. Setting New Year’s resolutions can be a way of incorporating the changes you want to see in your day-to-day family life.

An open dialogue with your children can be valuable as it may teach you something new about yourself as an individual and as a parent.

Treat it like a casual therapy session

You know why New Year’s resolutions are so awesome? Because they make us take a look at ourselves, our loved ones, our families, our behavior and how we interact with one another.

It's probably the only time of the year where we are practically forced to have a casual therapy session with ourselves, and that is a really great thing! Not only do parents benefit from making positive declarations to improve themselves, it means our children get to witness happiness and positivity in those they love most. When you lead by example to initiate change, your children will follow.

Teach persistence + patience

Did you know it takes six weeks to create a habit? Well, a New Year's resolution is simply a declaration of a new habit. It’s useful to know that it takes six diligent weeks of discipline and focus to achieve your goals. Rome was not built in a day, and your kids need to know this! Focus, determination and patience are all values that will strengthen the family unit.

Be realistic

I recommend you encourage goals that are within reach, so your family does not get discouraged. The point of New Year’s resolutions is not to make a huge list of goals and not follow through. This will just make you and your kids feel bad!

If you start with just one resolution, for example tightening up your family's schedule or getting better sleep, the smaller issues will quickly fall into place.

As a family, I suggest you take a fresh sheet of paper and write down each resolution with a large space after it. In this space, insert real examples of behavior you'd like to tweak. Be as concrete, specific and manageable as possible.

Just saying, "I promise not to yell at you if you need an extra five minutes to tie your shoes" will not work. Instead say, "I promise if you need an extra five minutes I will walk away so you aren't stressed by my presence." Then do it!

Resolutions bring families closer, especially when you decide to set goals together. And if any family out there is struggling with their resolutions, may I suggest the simplest one of all? Help your mother with the chores!