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Why is planning for the New Year as a family so important? It is good for psychological development as it gives the family and children an opportunity to be connected and to make everyone feel more valuable. These are the moments that can be celebrated where children are "in the center of affectionate attention and are made to feel important. If such occasions are celebrated in the right spirit, the glow from these days can spread out over the rest of life," author Bruno Bettelheim wrote. This is the time to ingrain traditions that will impact and last a lifetime for them. For example, if your child needs to improve their reading skills have the family come up with ideas to tackle this in the New Year to make it more interesting and collaborative. Make it fun and more light-hearted or your kid will think they are being punished (reward them when they complete a chapter). No matter what the course is, try these new resolutions for a happy and adventurous year for the entire family.

Go gadget-free.

Start a rule that there will be a weekend night which everyone turns off all cell phones and computers. They might not like it, but this is what is hindering many families from having fun and communicating with each other. This will be very awkward and a tough habit to break. However, tt’s actually going to help the entire family reconnect without distractions.

Learn something new as a family.

Find something new you can do for the month as a family. It can be learning how to ski or going to the park to observe nature. When you participate as a group it can be more fun. Have everyone come up with a written idea for an activity and add it to a box. Then pick a couple of the suggestions to use to keep it exciting.

Write it down.

When we write down our goals, they actually materialize. About 25 percent of people will abandon their New Year resolutions after one week wrote author Michael Hyatt explained. The others often drift aimlessly. "Writing down your goals forces you to select something specific and decide what you want," he said. Make sure as a family you right down your dreams and goals for the year.

Make this a year of love.

Make a commitment to love people more as a family. This can be by being kind to people in the family and strangers. Make it a point for everyone to share an encouraging word with each other at dinner. This can be from an inspirational or faith-filled devotional. Be honest and be open about encouraging each other through the week.

Forgive.

As a family make it a point to forgive each other. It is not about what people deserve. None of us deserves to be forgiven and yet God forgives us. Start letting things go and forgive more moving forward. This will cut back on strife in the home when we do this. It also teaches kids the power of forgiveness. Think of people you need to forgive. This can be a parent or a friend. Ask your children, if they have someone that they need to forgive. "Let them know that forgiving is one of the greatest gestures of generosity we can make," Beliefnet suggested. 

Read the Bible as a family.

Reading the Bible is a great way to reconnect with God as a family. Have someone choose a Bible verse that they love and read it after dinner or after lunch when you are together. You can start with the Psalms or Proverbs. When there is more time to discuss, chat why it can be impactful during trials. Choose a fresh Scripture weekly and all of you can build up your knowledge of the Bible. At the end of the year have a quiz to see who remembers the most.

Pray together.

When you pray together it is mighty and strengthens the family unit. Pray for each other daily. Make kids understand that life can throw us some punches but all things work together for our good and prayer is a resource that we can use. Enlist the family to pray for others as well as it is a good practice to think of others first.

Have an open-door policy.

Things happen, so make sure you have a plan in place to support another during crises. No one likes to deal with painful emotions but make a commitment that the family has a safe zone so they can talk about their struggles without being judged.

Have more dinners together.

A study done by the Journal of the American Medical Association presented evidence that family time helped children bounce back from cyber bullying and reduced alcohol abuse. Eating together helps with stress accumulated during the day as well. Sharing what is bothering you at dinner might not be ideal, but releasing doubts or concerns are healthy. Use dinnertime touch base with the family.

Stop being so serious.

Researchers found that stress could be the cause for health ailments like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Being stubborn all the time will hurt relationships, stir up fights and cause stress that impacts the body. Everyone has stress and if we have an environment full of it--no one will be happy. Lighten up and laugh more in the house. Leave problems at the door. Crack a joke, go to a fun movie or just have an impromptu party for the family.

Planning for the New Year with the family can be exciting and promising. You might not hit all your goals but you can set a course and set sail by creating healthier habits and a happier lifestyle for all. If you view this as a team effort everyone can benefit from positive changes. Just take it one step at a time. Take advantage of the New Year to build and to flourish as a family. 

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