New Year Resolutions for Parents

Whether you think you're a great parent, or not so much, there's room for improvement. New Year's may be the time to take a look at your parenting and resolve to improve.

Give Yourself a Break

The worst thing you can do to your kids is to be unhappy. Guilt makes you sad. Therefore, give yourself a break. You are human and you're going to make mistakes - lots and lots of them. Be honest with yourself and try to learn from your slip-ups. Beyond that, get over it. No one can travel in time and there is no Undo button for parenting. Resolve to stop feeling guilty over every last fault this year.

Be Consistent

It's not really that difficult to consistently discipline your kids. Just do what you say you will. Sometimes this is inconvenient, but it pays off in the end. Everyone from Dr. Sears to Super Nanny preaches consistency so take a look at your habits and find places to improve. I nag a lot about clean rooms, but never seem to follow through on my threats. I realize the need to put up or shut up in this area!

Read To and With Your Children

We all know we're supposed to be reading to our kids, but once they get past a certain age, it can slip. Older kids enjoy our reading to them just as much, if not more than they did when they were little. Reading longer books aloud lets you introduce great themes and authors to younger children. It's fun to answer questions kids come up with while they listen to you read. Once kids get too big to read to, consider reading the same books occasionally so that you can discuss them. This is an amazing way to get to know your child in a deep and meaningful way.

Accentuate the Positive

Catch kids doing something good and compliment them. It's easy to feel like a behavior cop when all you're doing is correcting kids' wrong moves. When you make a conscious decision to acknowledge good deeds - something as simple as complimenting the way a child remembered to make his bed - you set yourself up for success. Not only will your perspective change, but kids will like the praise and want to get more of it, resulting in more good behavior.

Caution: Don't overdo it. A lot of experts will disagree with me, but I think you can over-praise kids. They've got to learn that not everything in life deserves a gold star. You know your self and your kids. Use your judgment to come up with the right balance of positive comments and strict boundaries.

Decrease Eating Out

One of the best gifts you can give children is a healthy lifestyle. By eating at home you will teach them how to care for their bodies, not to mention improve the dining experience and possibly have more quality family time together. There are a lot of reasons we are eating away from home, but consider eating just one more meal at home each week and go from there. It's difficult because we are pulled in so many directions, but it's never going to happen unless you decide to do it!

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