New Year's resolutions for healthy kids and families

Image of family eating dinner together and smiling

New Year’s resolutions are a healthy, positive way to influence our lives and those of our family. Resolutions also teach children that adults work on becoming better people. If your family is interested in making resolutions this year, don’t forget to make them specific, measurable and realistic. Here are some starter suggestions.

Resolutions for families

Remember, the more involved that children are in setting family goals, the more likely they will be to engage in the work required to achieve them.

Sit down together for one family dinner every week.

This can be on any night of the week. It may last less than 30 minutes, but short conversations can seed bigger ones later. No phones during supper time, either.

Get 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.

Exercising together can be uncomplicated. Go for a walk or do a free online Zumba session.

Eat fewer restaurant/take-out meals and more home-cooked food.

Structure this goal around how often you skip home cooking. For example, if you eat out three times weekly, cut that back to once a week.

Schedule regular family time together for fun.

This is an occasion every week when you ditch the screens, reset and reconnect with your family by sharing in an activity like playing a board game.

Resolutions for young children

For elementary school-age kids, don’t get bogged down on targeting growth milestones. By setting goals, you’re starting an ongoing conversation about chores and why we do them. Remember, young children will likely require more assistance from you to stick to their goals.

  • Make your bed every day.
  • Brush your teeth twice daily.
  • Wash your hands before and after meals.
  • Read for 20 minutes daily (with a family member if the child is learning to read).

Resolutions for teenagers

Teenagers crave independence. When goal-setting, discuss areas where they think they can improve and where you can develop as a parent. This helps them feel more invested in the process.

  • No screens such as cell phones at the dinner table and after an agreed-upon time at night.
  • Plan your evenings so that you can get at least eight hours of sleep.
  • Exercise – whether that’s dancing, shooting hoops or walking – for 30 to 60 minutes per day.
  • Choose to volunteer regularly at an organization that’s meaningful to you.

Tips for successful resolutions

It helps to have a family member to whom you are accountable for reaching your goals. You can have a monthly family meeting to discuss your progress. With young children, using a calendar and stickers to mark completed tasks can make a goal more tangible (and help with their cognitive development).

If you’re struggling to keep a resolution, it’s a learning opportunity to figure out why – and then to modify that goal. There's nothing wrong with having to redo your New Year's resolution in the middle of April. The biggest goal to keep in mind is that you’re still working on being better.

Rewards, such as extra screen time or more time with friends, can help family members stay motivated to accomplish a resolution.

Erin Jamen-Esposito, MD, is a UChicago Medicine Medical Group provider. Dr. Jamen-Esposito is a pediatrician at UChicago Medicine Dearborn Station. UChicago Medicine Medical Group is comprised of UCM Care Network Medical Group, Inc. and Primary Healthcare Associates, S.C. UChicago Medicine Medical Group providers are not employees or agents of The University of Chicago Medical Center, The University of Chicago, UChicago Medicine South Loop, or UChicago Medicine at Ingalls — Tinley Park.

Erin Jamen-Esposito

Erin Jamen-Esposito, MD*

Erin Jamen-Esposito, MD, is a UChicago Medicine Medical Group provider. Dr. Jamen-Esposito is a pediatrician providing comprehensive care to children of all ages at UChicago Medicine at Dearborn Station. 

Learn more about Dr. Jamen-Esposito

Quality and Convenient Pediatric Primary Care

Phone appointment icon

Schedule Online

Book a pediatric primary care appointment online right away from the comfort of your mobile device.

Doc video chat icon

Set Up A Pediatric Video Visit

Save time by skipping the trip to the doctor's office and video conference with your provider instead.

Calendar icon

Request an Appointment

Don’t have time right now? Submit an appointment request form and we’ll call you back within two days to schedule an appointment.