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New Year: New Opportunities for Connecting as a Family

Did you know that most new year’s resolutions are abandoned by February 1?

It’s easy to understand why – especially as a busy mom! Your schedule is full to the brim with meetings, school projects, play dates, and all the kids’ appointments and activities. You’re mentally planning dinner, ordering a gift for that birthday party next week, and breaking up sibling scuffles. Whew! It can be exhausting to get through the week’s to-do list without adding the pressures of a big new year’s resolution. 

But there is one new year’s resolution (really, it’s more of a goal or commitment) that is worth the effort: connecting as a family. This may initially feel like one more thing to add to your growing to-do list, but we have some suggestions to make it a little easier. After all, connecting as a family and feeling close to those you love may be the most important thing you do this year. It will have lasting impacts on you and your children.

Successful parenting doesn’t have to be hard. Christina Gimenez, LMHC-QS, LPC, is the Supervisor for Building Families in Florida and a Trust-Based Relationship Intervention Practitioner. Her team facilitates affordable in-home, virtual, and hybrid family therapy in Tampa Bay. She says a simple way that parents can connect with kids meaningfully and easily is by focusing on “praises” rather than corrections. This means simply noticing when someone is doing something good or kind. 

“When you change your parenting perspective to a promoter of positive reinforcement, kids’ behavior can change for the better. It is amazing how positive reinforcement can produce better outcomes more than any punishment ever will.”

It might sound easier said than done. Praises can be easily forgotten when you’re picking up stinky socks off the floor for what feels like the hundredth time or when the kids are having a screaming match…again. So, Gimenez suggests implementing a Praise Jar. The idea is a simple one: notice your family members doing things you appreciate, write them down, and save them in a jar. You can go back and read these praises together when a kid (or parent) needs some extra encouragement. 

“The best thing about the Praise Jar is that it creates a solid way to offer positive reinforcement for the behaviors you want to see rather than giving negative attention to the behaviors that you don’t want to see. When you catch your kids being good, add a note of praise into their jar. I bet that you will feel more successful parenting when focusing on the positive rather than disciplining and refereeing the negative.”

At the end of the year, you’ll be amazed at all the affirmations that your family has shared. It will remind you of how far you’ve come and all the sweet small moments that may otherwise be quickly forgotten.

What you’ll need to make your own Praise Jar:

  1. Mason jar

  2. Colored paper

  3. Colored pens

  4. Any decorations that you want for your jar

Tell us more about your family’s new year’s resolutions and how you plan to stick to them! We’d love to hear your feedback on ways you’ve found to connect more as a family. If you ever feel like connection is extra difficult, or your family is experiencing a challenging season, you’re not alone! Parenthood didn’t come with a handbook. Don’t we wish it did! If you want to talk to an expert, reach out to Christina Gimenez and the Building Family team to learn more about individual (ages 3+) and family therapy in Tampa Bay at


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