Parenting goals and New year resolutions. Some people take them really seriously. Others couldn’t care less. Many of us make resolutions today and forget all about them tomorrow!
Irrespective of what you think about resolutions, they help us reflect on our lives and on the things that we would like to change. They help us see things more clearly and set specific and targeted goals to do better, to be better.
Specific periods such as the start of the year, or even birthdays, often feel like the perfect moment to start over with a clean slate.
They give us the opportunity to put everything gone-by away and receive a second (or third, or fourth) chance to get it right! They convince us that all is possible.
Setting parenting goals is a great way to start the new year. Parenting resolutions are really goals for parenting that can help us change how we relate to our kids.
They can help us understand and react to their behavior in more effective ways, feel better about our parenting skills, deal better with specific problem behavior, or even have a more fulfilled family life.
So, what parenting goals can help you start on the right foot? Science has a lot of advice on how we can all become better parents. To start the new year right, here are just seven goals for parenting that will transform you into the parent that you want to be.
Seven goals for parenting for a new parenting journey
Parenting goal 1: Show your child that you think that they’re awesome
Science says that when you “catch your child being good”, they are likely to continue displaying the behavior for which they received positive reinforcement.
Catching your child being good is related to positive reinforcement. It is about focusing on positive behavior instead of negative behavior and showing them that you notice their efforts.
We now know that words and thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Just as what you say to yourself can have power over what you become, what you say to your children can have power over what they become.
Choose your words carefully. Use words that build your child up, not break them down. Remember that your child will develop their sense of self from how they believe others – especially you – perceive them.
Parenting goal 2: Keep things simple
Leonardo da Vinci once said that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. While I can’t say much about sophistication, there is some truth in the fact that simplicity is the key to becoming a more fulfilled parent. To experience more, you need to do less.
Doing less means being more intentional on how you spend your time and resources. It means privileging what really matters and getting rid of all the things stealing your time. It means clearing the clutter and spending on what matters.
Keeping things simple is a great parenting goal which will free your time and allow you to use it on what really matters.
Parenting goal 3: Start a family routine or tradition
Routines are awesome. They keep families together. They help children develop a sense of identity and belonging. They reduce stress and increase wellbeing.
Research says that traditions can serve as an anchor during hard times.
I just LOVE family routines and traditions, and they are an easy way to create special family moments that will be remembered for years. The good news is that there are so many traditions to choose from. Here are 35 family traditions that your entire family will enjoy.
You can also try out our 30-day family challenge which your entire family will enjoy!
Parenting goal 4: Put yourself on your priority list
Maternal burnout is still a subject that many people prefer to avoid because the admission that parenting is hard is still viewed by some as an admission of failure. But here’s the thing: parental exhaustion affects both couples and kids. It tears families apart, and moms experience it more than dads.
Research says that maternal exhaustion can also lead to “negligent and violent behavior toward one’s children”. This makes sense when we know that everyone is the worst version of themselves when they are tired, angry or stressed, or anxious.
A separate study found that high levels of stress in parents (especially mothers) not only translates into poor education outcomes but also leads to behavioral and emotional problems in children.
We now know that parental burnout occurs long after one begins to experience feelings such as fatigue, stress and guilt.
Taking time for yourself is an important goal for parenting.
It is important to realize that:
• If you are not caring for yourself, you cannot effectively manage whatever else needs to be done: you are less productive when you are worked up and tired.
• If you are stressed, guilt-ridden and anxious, you can actually do more harm than good.
• Taking time off for yourself will be beneficial for your personal, professional, and social life. It will make you healthier and happier.
Accepting that you deserve time to yourself every day is an important parenting goal. Stop feeling guilty about spending time on yourself.
• Put yourself on your priority list. Relax. Do something you enjoy. Unwind.
• Don’t know what to do during your “me” time? Write a list of the things you’ve always wanted to do and put them on your to-do list.
• “Me” time could be as short as 10 to 15-minute breaks taken regularly. Commit to taking some time off every day.
• Creating a daily ritual could make it easier to take time off.
Stop trying to be perfect. Striving for perfection is setting yourself up for failure. It’s synonymous with inviting stress and disappointment into your life.
Rather than being perfect, be good enough. Being a good enough parent involves a delicate balancing act between being there for your children without suffocating them and finding time for yourself and your activities.
Goal 5: Do less
While there is a strong link between parental intervention and children’s wellbeing, research shows that being over responsive to children can be counterproductive.
One study found that inappropriate parental intervention could lead to kids developing greater anxiety and stress, and could even lead them to develop ineffective coping skills in adulthood. There’s a downside to being too quick to rescue your kids: they can become accustomed to the fact that there will always be someone to smooth out difficult patches.
Both researchers and active learning philosophers agree that children learn best by doing.
The origins of this method can be traced back to Plato who believed that the only way to learn philosophy was by using it: learning needs personal experience and practice. Children must be allowed to learn from their actions and through trial and error.
Many education experts agree that children learn best by doing things by themselves. The quest for independence is innate and occurs quite early.
Even kids as young as two can start developing their independence. By age three, most children can choose the clothes they’d like to wear, dress themselves and choose what they’d like to eat and so on.
As children grow older, they gain greater independence and can do much more than what most parents believe. By providing the appropriate support depending on your child’s age, you can nurture the drive towards independence.
According to a recent Braun research study, giving children regular chores may have long-lasting benefits academically, socially, emotionally and professionally.
Other studies have found that the earlier (from age three) children are assigned chores, the more self-reliant and independent they become, and they also become more responsible and tend to do better in school.
Nurturing your child’s independence, one day at a time, is one of the best goals for parenting.
Parenting goal 6: Be clear on your expectations
Children whose parents have high expectations tend to live up to them. One study found that high parental expectations increased student achievement, but only when parents did not aim too high. In other words, good expectations are great, unrealistic ones are not.
Setting expectations means communicating clearly with your child about your negotiables and your non negotiables. It means being clear about acceptable and unacceptable behavior. It means holding your child accountable for their behavior.
That said, your child can only thrive if your practice responsive parenting, meaning if you are able to find the right balance between your needs and their needs.
Goal 7: Choose the right discipline strategy
Each child has their own personality, and that personality affects their behavior. You too have your personality, and it affects how you react to your child’s behavior and the discipline strategy that you privilege.
There is a lot of debate about the “right discipline strategy” but the truth is, the best discipline strategy is the one that is right for both you and your child, for as long as it is not physically or psychological harmful.
The right discipline strategy depends on issues such as your child’s personality, their age, your actual situation, the problem behavior, and so on. This article has tips on different discipline strategies – choose whatever feels right for you.
Final thoughts on goals for parenting
We all know how it goes with goals and resolutions: we are highly motivated when we first set them and then we slowly forget all about them and go back to our past habits.
The exact same thing happens with parenting goals. If you do not make a real commitment to change and reflect on the things that you are going to change, then your goals for parenting just won’t work.
Start by identifying what you really want to change and writing down exactly how you are going to achieve those changes.
Don’t try to “turn your entire life around” – Pick just one of the parenting goals above and note down three things that you will start doing today to succeed!