Having regular family meetings is an important Positive Discipline tool. You’ll be amazed what a big difference 15-20 minutes a week can make.Benefits:
- Family Meetings provide an opportunity to teach children valuable social and life skills; listening, problem solving skills, mutual respect, concern for others and co-operation.
- It’s a safe place where they can admit mistakes and be supported to find solutions instead of experiencing blame, shame or pain.
- How to choose solutions that are respectful to everyone concerned.
- Empower them to get their voice along with points and ideas heard and feel part of the family community.
- A place to agree to Household Rules, that we can refer to when things go wrong instead of nagging and anger.
- It is an alternative to saying NO ‘let me think about that one and we can take it up at next meeting’
- Connect the family – glue the family together
Before the meeting:
- As parents, practice good and effective communication and problem solving!
- Agree to a time and location (choose a time where you are all relaxed)
- Have something ‘nice ‘lined up for afterwards i.e. a family meal or outing or maybe you all just need separated time to think. But don’t have lots of activities on afterwards!
- You can choose one person to write down what you agreed to.
- But most of all make sure you are in the right space; check in with yourself to make sure you are calm and ready to manage the meeting. Take e deep breath and have some positive self-talk about how you want the meeting to turn out. Get hold of your own emotions and remind yourself NEVER to say or do anything in anger or negative emotions! KEEP CALM – be a role model! ‘I can do this’!
- How to call a family meeting: If we call to a meeting/a chat most kids will automatically think ‘Oh no here we go again, nag, nag etc.’ Nobody wants to be confronted with an issue or fault, nobody wants to feel blamed or criticized as it might send our kids into a defensive mood, they could rebel and sabotage the meeting and come to the meeting with negative expectations.
- So instead start from an I-point – send an I-message: I would like a place where we can just talk about everything from holiday to something that worries you
- ‘I feel sad that the morning is so stressed…. I don’t like to nag…’. I need some help to change things so it would be great if we could sit down once a week and talk about how I can be the best parent I can: Keep the problem with you!
- First meeting should be positive and short: maybe just a chat with snacks, a game and talk about how to run the meetings and why. Or choose a ‘light’ topics where they see ‘what is it for me’ i.e. pocket money, food planner, family outing etc.
- Start the meetings: with a ‘how was the week? What went well and what needs improving? What topics on the agenda will we talk about today?
- It is up to you to manage the meetings: All the conversations must be non-judgmental – no interrupting. Send an I-message ‘I feel sad that.’ ‘I don’t like to nag.’ keep the problem with you – no finger pointing or nagging! So even though you might not like what your hear, you will NEED to LISTEN, UNDERSTAND and ACCPET that this is how they feel. That doesn’t not mean you AGREE! ‘I hear that you… and I understand that this is important to you and that’s Ok – now let’s find a solution together’.
- Problem solve together: listen to what they have to say, state what you think ‘now how can we agree to this’ – you might have to meet in the middle
- STOP the meeting: if the meeting gets too heated or one or all don’t want to listen and problem solve together. STOP the meeting, have a time out ‘I think we are getting nowhere here and I don’t enjoy all the shouting, let’s have a time out and come back in 10mins (or this evening or tomorrow). It is up to you to manage the meeting and if it gets negative it is up to you to stop it! don’t do it in anger butin a faire firm tone and with less words
- Keep the agreement visual for everybody – write done EVERYTHING you agree to, so you can go back and say ‘but you agreed to it’; can print it out, use post it notes, children could write up, write on stones, numerous ways to do this and they can evolve.
- Establish Agreed Consequences if rules are broken! No hitting = no television that night etc. let everyone comes up with what they think is faire. Make sure you write it down. Stick to the consequences.
- DON’T GIVE UP; the first few meetings can be hard and you might feel ‘this is no good, we can’t do it’, but always think about WHY it went wrong (stay curious and open-minded). Could you do things differently? Could it be a sign that your family need this more than anything since really find it hard to communicate without battles! Maybe ask the family ‘how can we do this different’? Don’t give them the option ‘do you want to do this, should we stop’!
What can you talk about at family meetings? The beauty of family meetings is that you can talkabout ANYTHING that is important to your family!
- What is important to us as a family?
- What make us happy and a team?
- Lets make some ‘agreemtns’ around them (rules)
- Who will do what and when? Clear and agreed responsibilities.
Screen Rules: agree on the rules around screens.
Pocket money, holidays, arguments or disagreements in the family – plan a Family Fun day!!
Have fun with your family chat!
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The Parenting Success Team