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2024 resolutions: Better parenting and family health are top priorities 

In the spirit of the New Year, many parents are committing to resolutions aimed at improving their parenting skills and family life. 

According to the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, these resolutions include fostering more patience, reducing phone time, maintaining consistent discipline, and cultivating healthier family habits. 

The poll also reveals that tweens and teens are setting their own goals, focusing on academic achievements, extracurricular success, fitness, nutrition, and financial gains.

Milestone occasions 

The poll, which gathered responses from 2,044 parents of children aged 0-18 in August 2023, indicates that about three-quarters of parents make resolutions or set personal goals throughout the year, with a significant portion choosing New Year’s Eve or other milestone occasions like the start of a school year or a birthday to start anew.

“Milestone occasions, such as the start of a new calendar or school year, present families with opportunities for self-reflection and motivation to improve an area of physical and emotional health,” said Sarah Clark, M.P.H., co-director of the Mott Poll. She noted that parents often aim to enhance their parenting techniques, focus on health, and support their child’s community engagement.

Top resolutions 

The poll found that nearly half of mothers and a third of fathers have set goals to modify their parenting approach, with a majority seeking more patience and less phone engagement. 

Health-related goals are also prevalent, with many parents aspiring to provide healthier meals and engage in joint exercise with their children.

Parenting goals

Among those who have established parenting goals, about three-quarters believe these goals have made them better parents, and an even greater number believe it has taught their children about goal-setting.

“Setting goals to improve parenting can help parents define their values and priorities and have positive effects on the health and well being of the whole family,” Clark said.

The poll suggests that parents with three or more children are more likely to focus on consistent discipline and spiritual involvement with their kids compared to those with fewer children.

Children’s goals

As for the children’s resolutions, approximately 70 percent revolve around academic performance, with over half targeting success in activities. Goals related to fitness, nutrition, and financial independence are also common, as is the desire to try new things and engage in friendships or volunteering.

Teens aged 15-18 are reportedly more inclined toward goals involving nutrition and exercise, while younger children (11-14 years) show a greater interest in exploring new experiences.

Clark emphasized the importance of goal-setting for children, arguing that “goal-setting helps kids learn to be accountable for their actions and develop a growth mindset.” She also pointed out the benefits of parents modeling goal-setting behavior.

Helpful strategies 

To support their children’s objectives, parents employ various strategies, including celebrating efforts, joining in their pursuits, tracking progress, providing financial backing, or offering rewards for achieving goals.

Clark advises parents to identify specific strategies to enhance their ability to achieve their goals, especially since New Year resolutions often wane as the year progresses. She recommends setting specific, realistic targets and scheduling time to work towards them.

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