Family Meetings

What is the first thing you think of when someone says ‘family meeting’?

The Brady Bunch?

Despite this image, family meetings are actually really good value! I can’t believe I’ve not written about this topic yet.

I was introduced to family meetings by my middle son. Talk about kids being the instruction manual – we don’t need an instruction manual for our kids, they let us know what they need if we are willing to listen.

He was in Kindergarten and had become used to assemblies at school. He said out loud one day “I want a family assembly”. He then busied himself making an agenda, time and date. He must have been channelling his inner parent educator.

As it turned out he had something on his mind. He wanted to make Sunday afternoons a time where we played board games. We liked the family meeting so much that we kept going with it.

Ideally, a family meeting should be held once per week, about the same time each week.

If you do an internet search on ‘family meetings’, you will get lots of ideas for them. Some of them can get quite kumbaya hippy-la-la.

I keep ours simple. We talk about the week that has been.

  • what went well?
  • what didn’t go so well?
  • what could we do differently?

We also talk about the week ahead so that everyone knows what is going on and what is required of them.

Family meetings give everyone the opportunity to have a say about what is going on for them. More importantly it gives the kids the opportunity to solve problems. Kids can be really good at problem solving. Start holding family meetings when your oldest child is five years old.

Family meetings are not about handing control over to the kids though. If they say they would like ice cream for dinner every night instead of peas and broccoli, it doesn’t mean it is going to happen. Maybe you could come to some kind of compromise where you have ice cream after dinner once per week?

Family meetings aren’t the place for speaking with individual children about their behaviour. That should be done one-on-one initially. Then if the family is needed to help make things work you can call an extraordinary family meeting just for that purpose. Remember to keep it positive and supportive.

Keep the family meeting short, no longer than 20 minutes. Then do something fun together after the meeting (have that ice cream?), because no matter how many family meetings you hold, the kids screw their faces up as soon as you mention ‘family meeting’. I’m not sure why, because everyone benefits. It’s just one of those things.

One little boy of a family I was working with got so excited about the prospect of a family meeting, he asked if they could wear pirate hats. So they did. You’ve got to love that kind of enthusiasm.

Narelle Smith


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Categories: Encouraging Desirable Behaviour


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