As you set goals, here are eight great ideas to strengthen your family life and help everyone get on the right track!

1. Create a Consistent Daily Schedule.  It helps children to have a predictable daily routine – starting your day at about the same time, etc.  Rather than excess TV, video games, or idle time, set a schedule that involves play, rest, study, and even daily chores.  This simple exercise will help your family, especially the younger members, mature in many areas of character development.

2. Commit to Quantity, Quality Time Together.  To a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E.  Amazingly, most emotional problems that children and teenagers face can be solved by spending quantity time with loving parents.  This kind of time is far more than watching a movie together or just coexisting in the same environment.   Quality time involves talking, laughing, playing, and even praying together.  Developing family bonds is a heart level issue that only time can build!  Be sure to make your family a priority in this area!

3. Pursue Creative Playtime.  Develop hobbies, games, and play styles in your child’s life that increase imagination and engage the mind.  Limit TV and video game time, and focus on reading, thinking, and creativity.  This kind of play will keep your child’s mind active and growing!

4. Set Appropriate Boundaries. Most parents fear their own children’s unhappiness to the point that they won’t set boundaries to protect their hearts and minds.  Oddly enough, we set boundaries for physical dangers, like the fireplace or the medicine cabinet, but we fail to set boundaries in areas that are harmful emotionally or spiritually.  Be bold to protect your child from harmful entertainment or experiences.  At first your child may not understand your boundary and may express displeasure – but twenty years from now, your child will thank you for caring about his spiritual heart!

6. Be Interested in Their Interests. Your older child craves your interest in his life!  Begin asking him pertinent questions regarding his day, his plans, his dreams, and his friends.  Let him child see that you love every area of his life – especially the things that he loves!

7. Help Your Child Know God.  The greatest gift any parent can give is the knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father!  Your child will soon outgrow your parental oversight, but he can never outgrow the love of his Heavenly Father!  Find a church that teaches the Bible and make God a priority for your family.

8. Reward and Praise Each Other Often. Children of all ages crave recognition and affirmation!  Some experts say a ratio of ten-to-one is healthy — ten praises for every one reprimand.  So how are your ratios?  If we’re not careful, all of us can get carried away on the reprimands.  Try erring to the positive this year.  You’ll be amazed what a little “praise” will mean in the heart of your child.

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4