Updated: Jun 21
Before we get into this post, which is a story about how family meetings worked out in one family, you might like to know the basics of family meetings If so, you'll want to start here... In my coaching sessions, I've been working with a mum for about 6 months, and one of our main topics has been family meetings. She's a mum of 3 tween/ teenagers.
This mum had read the Positive Discipline book, but didn't have the opportunity to attend parenting classes, and turned to me to help.
"I've tried doing family meetings, but the kids just get bored, and say they don't want to come, and I just can't find a way out"
And here's what has worked for her
1) finding a time that worked for HER family, and sticking to it. This took a lot of trial and error..
2) having an agenda up in a visible place, so that everyone can see it. This serves as a reminder that family meeting is happening, and allows anyone to add to the agenda. That way her children feel they have input and influence, and it's not just an opportunity for mum to tell them the next positive discipline tool she's going to put in place!
3) having fun together. This was maybe one of the hardest ones for them, as the three children had very different ideas about what was fun. So it's meant making pizza, making music together, and bike rides, depending on who chooses the activity.
4) letting go of the outcome. At the beginning, there were lots of topics where the children didn't agree, and so no solutions were found, there weren't even any compromises to be had in some situations. That was a learning point for both the mum and me, that the very fact of holding family meetings was important, even if they didn't seem to be producing any concrete results
5) it takes time. When you're implementing a totally new strategy, especially with older children, you're not going to see change immediately.
6) Remember that it's not an opportunity for you, as the adult, to just complain about your kids behaviour - they need to want to turn up! So stay constructive, and step out of the conversations to allow your kids to find their own solutions.
7) Family meetings are not the only tool - if you have an issue with one of your kids, then take time to talk about it individually (especially if they might be embarrassed by you bringing it up in front of everyone).
And this way, you model conflict resolution to your kids (which their teachers will also thank you for!!) As a tangent, my middle child just decided to re-purpose our small activity table as a 'peace table'!
8) When it happens, it's great! Family meetings are now a regular part of her family's week, and while the children may not 'look forward' to them, they do see them as opportunities to talk things through and find solutions to their difficulties.
How about you - are family meetings a regular part of your schedule? If you'd like to schedule a coaching call to work out how to get 'unstuck' in your parenting journey, you can contact me here: https://www.encouragingparents.com/bookacoachingcall