Set Practical Parenting Goals for the New Year

(Family Features) As another year rolls around, if you're like many parents, you plan to make resolutions hoping to instill better habits and overcome lingering challenges. The good news is your family goals don't have to be lofty resolutions. Rather approach them as healthy lifestyle improvements, like curbing screen time or finding ways to entice your picky eater.

As you consider which areas you'll strive to improve in the coming year, remember to keep your goals realistic and know that acknowledging the need for change is almost as important as making the resolution itself.

Find inspiration to create meaningful goals for your family in 2018 with these resolutions from the health and wellness experts, and parents, at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life:

Commit to family meals. Crazy schedules or simply the desire to catch up on the latest episodes of your favorite show can make it hard to come together around the table, but it's valuable time for connecting and creating memories.

"My New Year's resolution is for my husband and I to stop eating dinner in front of the TV," said Katherine Shary, RD, LD, child wellness program coordinator and an expecting mom. "It has been just the two of us for so long and after a long day of work we like to relax together watching one of our recorded shows while eating dinner. However, now that we are due with our first child, it is important that dinners become about family time and making memories without screens. I have many fond memories of eating dinner as a child with my parents and siblings."

End the food fight. When there's a picky eater in the house, or a child who simply refuses to eat, mealtime can be a struggle. One solution is to find creative ways to encourage kids to experiment with new flavors.

"My resolution is to keep mealtimes pleasant by decreasing the power struggle around food and expose the kids to new cuisines," said Sheethal Reddy, PhD, clinical psychologist and mom of a son, 3, and daughter, 8 months.

Ditch digital. Technology is a blessing in many ways, but it also can hinder personal interaction.

"I plan to focus on being more present with my kids," said Wendy Palmer, MS, RD, LD, CHES, child wellness manager and mom of two sons, 6 and 8. "Put phones out of sight and focus on each other, especially during meal times."

It's a challenge shared by many families, including Marc Welsh, child wellness director and dad to an 8-month-old daughter.

"My resolution is to take time each evening to put away all devices and bond with my daughter," Welsh said.

Keep expectations realistic. Overstating goals or expecting unlikely outcomes can only lead to disappointment. Instead, keep a positive outlook like Stephanie Walsh, MD, child wellness medical director and mom of three boys, 13, 15 and 17.

"My resolution is to keep perspective, to not make any lofty resolutions and focus on doing my best every day," Walsh said.

Once your resolutions are set, visit to find expert advice and resources for overcoming common concerns like excess screen time and mealtime battles.


Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta