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Make New Year's Resolutions the Whole Family Will Keep

How To Make Positive Changes With Your Family For The New Year

There is an excitement about the start of a new year, with all its promise and possibility. Traditionally, people celebrate this holiday by making resolutions and pledging to change for the better. The arrival of the new year is a good time to reflect on the past and plan for the future, especially for parents who want to make positive changes not only for themselves but also for their children.

Instill an Attitude of Gratitude

Erin E. Mitchell is an educational consultant in San Jose, Calif., and the mother of two. She and her husband, Clifford, a school administrator, lead busy lives and are concerned that their children will get caught up in the whirlwind.

A New Year's goal for the Mitchell family is to simplify. "We started today by going through the toys we have collected in the last three years," Mitchell says. "We took the time to explain to our son, Matthew, that we were going to find things that he could give to other kids who don't have toys. He actually helped us out, which is funny because he won't even give his sister a moldy Cheerio from the bottom of his toy box. We are planning to do this at least once a year, in hopes that even when the 'me stage' is over, the kids will be more appreciative, grateful and respectful."

Relax and Enjoy

Mitchell also wants her family to be able to take a collective deep breath and spend more time enjoying the moment. "Our children know that we love them, but I want to show them that they are truly the most important thing in the world to us," she says. "Our family traditions will start, and their memories will form, in the unhurried quality moments that we are able to spend with them. This year it is all about that 'slow time.'"

Teach As You Play

Mark Victor Hansen is a world-renowned professional speaker and author. Best known for co-creating the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and author of The One Minute Millionaire (Harmony, 2002), Hansen has dedicated his life to making a positive difference in people's lives. For parents looking to get their message across to young children, Hansen has some straightforward advice.

"Be involved in your child's life," he says. "Develop age-appropriate activities that exemplify family teachings. Use these activities to teach them as much as possible at an early age."

Set 101 Goals

Hansen and his family begin each year by creating a list of things they want to accomplish during that year. "What I teach, believe and practice is for each member of the family to begin each year with 101 goals," he says. "These goals are both individual and family-oriented. When we sit down to write them, the question is, 'What are we going to do together this year?' We break our goals down into categories and consider financial, social, spiritual, mental and health-related issues."

Keep a Record of Your Life Together

In addition to setting goals together as a family, Hansen believes that there are a few very important gifts that parents can give to children in order to provide a sense of what is important. "Give your children family pictures," he says. "Create family memories and leave a pictorial family history. Keep a journal so that your kids can really know you. My children got to know me by knowing what I was thinking at any given time. Maintain a library. The books you keep will give your children an idea of what you read, what was important to you and what you found influential. Kids can see where you have dog-eared a corner or underlined a sentence."

No matter how well last year's plans worked out, it is important to enter this year armed with the best of intentions. Life will always be busy and change will always be difficult. For her part, Erin Mitchell believes that she has found a key to a healthier and happier new year. "When I am more balanced mentally and physically, it affects me emotionally," she says. "It makes me happier, more flexible and even more loving with the kids. Better balance on my part will help me teach my children better habits overall."

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