Life Skills for Children A-Z – F is for Family Meetings

Communicating effectively is key for every happy, harmonious family.

In the same way that we as parents and partners feel the need to be heard, children feel the need to be heard and to express their opinions too.

For children to be able to learn how to communicate effectively and learn how to listen and express opinions, parents need to create an environment where any member of the family feels able to talk openly about what’s on their mind, express opinions and negotiate for things that are important to them. Family Meetings are an ideal environment in which to achieve this.

What is a Family Meeting?

  • The idea is for everyone to “take a moment” and concentrate on any decisions or issues being faced.
  • A family meeting can be called at any time, by any member of the family.
  • Family meetings can be as formal or informal as you like but no ONE family member is in charge. Ownership of family meetings needs to belong to everyone.
  • Each family member should take a turn talking depending on who’s called the meeting.
  • Each family member gets to have their say and contribute their opinions
  • It’s important to stay open-minded and develop an environment of trust where no one feels judged by what they say.
Ground Rules (there need to be some)
  • One person talks at a time and everyone gets their say.
  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Everyone’s opinion matters and should be heard.
  • Every member of the family has a responsibility to express their thoughts and feelings.
  • Everyone agrees to commit to whatever is agreed to in the meetings.
  • Thou shalt not grumble and gripe – family meetings are not about griping and snipping at each other, they are a forum to raise and discuss things in order to resolve them positively.
Getting Started

Just do it! If you have something to discuss, i.e., the idea of starting to have family meetings, call a family meeting and table the idea of having a family meeting. Get your children involved by asking them questions. Do you think it’s a good idea? Shall we plan today with a family meeting? Does anyone have anything they’d like to talk about, see changed in the family, do this week? Resolve anything where appropriate, come up with a plan if it’s something that needs changing longer term and then plan your next family meeting.

What to Discuss

  • Review last week’s activities and calendar (any hiccups, things that went particular well, etc.)
  • Plan next week’s activities and calendar (where’s everyone going to be, any particular plans, etc.)
  • Review daily plans and goals (progress made on plans, goals reached, household activities achieved, plans for the following weeks household activities, etc.)
  • Personal goals and/or concerns (identify and solve individual concerns, discuss successes, make special requests, plan family outings, etc.

In our house, we called our first family meeting one Saturday because everyone wanted to do different things. We decided to sit down with the children, have everyone say what they wanted to do and then asked the children to suggest ways we could do everything, i.e., an order of play for the day. The children loved it. They thrived on being heard, being in charge of planning the day and trying to plan around everyone else how they could get to do what they wanted. They negotiated, thought strategically, compromised and came up with a plan. We saw budding leadership skills, potential self-confidence issues and areas where we might well need to concentrate on strengthening their skills in the future. It worked so well we now use family meetings every week to identify short and long term goals, resolve differences, review household activity lists and teach our kids other life skills.

Do you hold family meetings? If so how do you do it and what do you discuss? Drop us a CANDo email or leave a comment below.

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