Do your kids ever go through periods of time where it seems like all they do is argue? Are you asking your kids to do certain things over and over? Is there complaining? Does it ever feel like the negativity is polluting the environment at home?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, don’t worry. It happens and there is something you can do about it…you can hold a family meeting. Here’s how:
- Pick a time when you know all family members are available…let’s say, for example, 7 p.m. on Monday night.
- Inform all members of the family that they are expected to attend. For example, tell them (or text them), “We’re having a family meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday night. You need to be in the living room at that time.”
- At the chosen time, meet them in the designated spot. Have something to write on and something to write with ready.
- Explain to your kids that you just want to gather as a family team in order to brainstorm. Then ask one of them (maybe the one who looks least interested) to choose an object in the room to hold…any object. This object will serve as a talking object–only the person holding it, is allowed to talk.
- Start with establishing a few ground rules. For example, you can reiterate that the first ground rule is that only the person holding the talking object can talk and that the object will be passed around. Another ground rule could be that there is no blaming. Be sure to ask them if they have ideas for ground rules, as well.
- Next, ask the first child holding the talking object the following questions, one at a time allowing for responses in between: What do you like about our family lately? What do you not like so much about our family lately? What could we change to make things work better? How could we change it?
- Make sure you show each child that you are listening by writing down each child’s answer to the “What could we change to make things better?” question as a goal. This will make every member of the family feel important (essential to working together as a team). Make sure that you take a turn, too.
- Finally, hold up your family goals and ask them if they agree with them.
If they all agree, celebrate with a treat (maybe cocoa or cookies), keep in mind that it takes time and practice to be able to have these meetings skillfully. It also takes time to see results. But what you and your children will gain from having them, is more effective communication, learned problem-solving skills, a feeling of choice over one’s environment, bonding as a team, and a recognized respect for each other. These are valuable abilities that you can support your children in developing.
Congratulations on your first family meeting!