What if it also helped fill your emotional “tank”, while giving kids practice with important skills like listening, leadership, understanding another person’s point of view, and brainstorming?
Family meetings are a great tool for doing all that.
What is a Family Meeting?
A weekly time to get together as a family, appreciate each other/express gratitude, find mutually respectful solutions to problems, and have some fun together. Children as young as 3.5 years can participate.
Why do it?
It builds connection and mutual respect, increasing the sense of belonging and significance of each family member. If you master the basics and progress to mutually respectful problem solving, too, your kids will also learn some terrific life skills like brainstorming solutions, accountability, and working as part of a team. And more.
How does it work?
The simplest way to have a family meeting is to give each other compliments or appreciations and then plan a fun activity together for the coming week. End with something you enjoy doing together – playing a game, eating dessert, going to the park, etc.
Sound silly? I honestly don’t know anyone who ever said, “Oh, I’m just so OVERLY appreciated in my life! My partner, my kids, my boss – everyone keeps telling me how much they love and appreciate me and how wonderful I am – I just can’t stand any more!”
- Find 10 – 15 minutes/week (stay on shorter side with young kids)
- Gather the troops (around the kitchen table or someplace you can all focus)
- Choose meeting jobs (they rotate). Chairperson, Time Keeper, Secretary.
The Chairperson runs the meeting. Kids love this job (it rotates every week, so everyone should get a chance). The Chairperson kicks the meeting off by asking, “who would like to start with compliments or appreciations?” Each person then takes a turn giving a compliment or appreciation to the other members of the family. A variation is to share something you’re grateful for instead.
The Time Keeper makes sure the meeting ends on time. Even young kids can set a timer.
The Secretary writes down the fun ideas you brainstorm – anything to note for the next week.
After compliments, plan a fun activity for the next week or weekend, taking input from each person.
- Brainstorm ideas and make a list.
- Try to reach consensus on something everyone would be willing to do.
- The chairperson thanks everyone and calls the meeting to a close.
- End by doing something fun together – play a game, spend time outside, make or eat dessert together, whatever you like to do.
If you’ve tried family meetings, please share your experience and what your kids think –
– based on ideas for Family Meetings in Positive Discipline, by Jane Nelsen, Ed. D.