Planning a successful year ahead with your children

As the end of the year approaches, parents are faced with many decisions – what gifts to buy, where to shop, where to spend the holidays, where to eat and more. Too often, the holidays become a season of madness rather than merriment.

I get it! Between gift lists, family dinner plans, holiday travels and Black Friday shopping, this season can be stressful and chaotic, leaving limited time to focus on improving your relationship with your children.

But a relationship, like any other responsibility, requires goals, intentions, accountability and trust. When parents visit me for their first coaching session, I ask them to describe their vision for their family and set goals for themselves and their children. Many find this process frustrating. Why? Well, as they admit, setting goals for their family and children has seldom been a priority.

This holiday, look at your current situation and identify your greatest challenges. Then create a vision of what you yearn for your family to look like a year from now.

Based on my personal and professional planning experience, here are three tips to help you and your family start transforming the nature of this holiday and year ahead from stressful and frustrating to joyful and serene.

• Share your expectations and set goals together — Open the lines of communication in your family to reduce frustration. Begin by organizing a family meeting. Use this period to establish realistic expectations regarding behavior, responsibility, and academic achievement. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Expect your kids to resist at first – that’s okay. Listen with empathy and acknowledge their feelings. Help them establish goals for themselves with your guidance.

• Love and forgive yourself — Being a forgiving parent means that you will also have to forgive yourself. As a parent, you wear plenty of hats: mom or dad, spouse or partner, friend, business owner, volunteer, chauffeur, etc. You probably experience feelings of unworthiness, failure, and guilt sometimes. These are not helping your children! First, forget society’s expectations about what parenting should be and look like. Second, understand that your culture, upbringing, and experiences have shaped your parenting style – acknowledge these influences and forgive yourself for those that may have negatively influenced your parenting style. If you want to learn how to do things differently, ask for help – family, friends, parent coaches, advisors, and counselors are available to help. When we know better, we do better. Let your children see you for who you are, and trust that you are good enough.

• Strengthen your relationship with trust — There is no handbook for “good” parenting. As a result, you are bound to make mistakes. Now that you have set the tone for your family with realistic goals and expectations and forgiven yourself for past mistakes, it is time to begin a new pattern. To cultivate trust, you must establish a routine that reflects the expectations you set earlier. When you establish a steady routine, your tweens will feel secure and less anxious throughout the day. Be consistent. Your tweens will feel important and know what to expect from you and others around them.

Have a happy and blessed holiday!

Diana Pinto is the owner and head study coach at Pinecrest’s Learning Matters. She has a degree in psychology/child development from Florida International University. For more information, call 786-252- 1585 or go to <www.learningmattersflorida. com>.

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