Having regular family meetings can provide a way for a family to take time out of their busy lives to listen and talk to each other. The meetings can focus on making decisions, such as where to go on a family vacation, scheduling family chores or solving problems.
It is a way to foster better communication and strengthen family bonds even with children as young as four. As the children age, being accustomed to communicating in a family meeting setting makes talking about family values, financial issues and life plans easier. Family meetings are also a great way to teach your children how to communicate their needs without whining and will help them communicate with colleagues and bosses when they get into the adult world.
The agenda can be set by family members by adding to a list posted on the family bulletin board, better known as the refrigerator. Family members can take turns heading the meeting and usually a parent takes that role the first time. The goal is not to start with an agreement but to end with it. If conflict arises, try to reach a solution that’s agreeable to everyone. Using “I” messages helps the speaker to own the statement and is less blaming or accusatory than using “you.”
One sample agenda topic could be sharing schedules for the upcoming week so schedule conflicts are resolved and transportation needs are addressed. Other topics could include sharing one thing each family member appreciates about the other family member, solving a problem to make sure toys aren’t left out or even discussing the idea that parents are being “too strict.”
Use the process and content of a family meeting to improve problem solving and cooperation among family members, and always end on a positive note!
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