The two most useful habits for positive parenting are family meetings and encouragement (instead of praise, reward & punishment). Family meetings are a powerful way to stay connected to your children and teens, which protects them from bullying by connecting them to your family, nurtures their self-esteem, practices mutual respect, builds their confidence and teaches them teamwork. Family meetings reinforce every positive parenting strategy and everything you want your child to become.
The first week’s assignment in my online parenting class was to hold a family meeting. The mother who posted the report below has four children between ages 4 and 8. She took the assignment seriously, involved the children in picking out a special treat and had a very successful meeting. If your family could have a meeting that was half as good as hers, it would be a success.
One tweak is that I would have invited the children to set up the ground rules. The “three strikes” will hopefully prove unnecessary. Be happy they show up for the meetings, especially as they get older. Another suggestion is to have one of the children prepare a blank agenda template on the computer. The more the children are involved, the more they are empowered.
I hope her family meeting will inspire you to have a family meeting. See my book or tip sheet for more information. The first step is to post an empty agenda on your fridge and announce the time of the meeting to your family. Good luck and tell me what happens.
We held our first family meeting tonight, 3/4/11, and happy to report my kids were so excited to do it! I made a big deal out of it by taking them to the grocery store after school, and letting them each pick out a pint of their favorite ice-cream, which would be their special treat after the meeting (they didn’t eat the whole pint each, just a serving ;o-).
I used the Family Meeting agenda document. For this first meeting, I led the discussion and opened with discussing the Ground Rules of our meeting:
1. Discussing one topic at a time
2. Not moving to another topic until everyone agrees to do so
3. Taking turns while speaking
4. No putting other people down
5. No fighting or arguing
We agreed that if anyone should break a rule during the meeting they would get 1 strike. If a person got to 3 strikes then they would not get to have the treat that followed.
After we had the ground rules established, we moved on to Compliments. My children and I really enjoyed this part of the meeting and said some really sweet things to their siblings, none of which I think I’ve EVER heard them say before and nearly brought tears to my eyes. They also had some sweet things to say about my husband and myself.
When it was my turn to compliment, I was sure to mention how much I appreciated their help over this past week, and how it makes it easier for me when everyone pitches in to help. ***I honestly can report I was AMAZED at how willing my children are to help, especially when it comes to cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. Each and every one of them were on board with a job I asked them to do, right down to my 4-year-old washing a pan!
In addition to complimenting my kids, it felt really good to compliment my husband. We are guilty of not taking the time to do this. I mentioned to him how much I appreciate that he makes it possible for me to exercise, and I meant it 100%!
From compliments, we moved into discussing what Respect means (my 8-year-old did a fantastic job explaining to his siblings ). I brought up that I feel like we as a family could do better at showing each other respect, and brainstormed about ways we could change. They had some great ideas, and felt like it definitely clicked =)
We then had everyone go around the table to answer the following questions:
1. What made you feel good this week?
2. What made you feel bad this week?
3. What do you want to accomplish next week?
Asking these questions lead into some great family discussion, i.e. My daughter expressed that she felt great cheering on her friends in her gym class when they were struggling with an exercise. My husband said, “The Family Meeting was the highlight of his week” which, of course, THRILLED me!
Finally we discussed our upcoming events\schedule. One of the items on this list was my daughter’s Powderpuff Derby race (the equivalent to the Boy Scout Pinewood Derby) The opportunity to build another car out of wood was met with much enthusiasm by all of my kids, and lead to brainstorming what we will do differently to make my daughter’s car faster, etc. We also discussed we will be getting a visit from Grammy & Grandpa next weekend, and I would need some extra help around the house to get it in tip-top shape for their visit.
Finally we closed with activities that each of us would like to do as a family, i.e. Go Bowling, Play Lazer Tag, once spring arrives we are going to make it our goal to walk on every trail in our town.
We closed the evening by making ice cream sundaes and watching a family movie together =) It was a great night, and so pleased with the outcome. My kids said they can’t wait until next week, and our next family meeting. In the meantime, I’ll be sure to print off a blank agenda and write down topics to discuss as they come up.