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How To Hold a Successful Family Meeting

ages 11 years - 18 years ages 5 years - 11 years ages 6 months - 5 years communication consistency problem solving routines Jan 04, 2024


Happy New Year, amazing parents!  I hope your 2024 is off to a great start.  This annual transition presents a perfect opportunity for families to reflect on their routines and make intentional decisions for the future.  It's a time to gather as a family and have an effective family meeting, discussing a fresh start and making decisions that will shape your family's weekly routine in the year to come.  Whether it's making an adjustment to the Family Screen Time Schedule, encouraging your child to try a new activity, or making changes to the family chores schedule, this post will provide practical tips for holding a successful family meeting that fosters effective communication, trust, and understanding while clearly establishing a new family protocol.


Creating an Environment of Effective Communication

An essential element of a successful family meeting is modeling effective communication skills.  It's important to share your opinions in a calm, clear, and caring manner, allowing each family member to express their thoughts and feelings openly and respectfully.  By creating an environment of trust and understanding, everyone will feel heard and valued.  Offer each family member an opportunity to speak and encourage others to be patient and good listeners while they wait for their turn to share their opinions.  This lets each family member know that they are a valued and respected part of the family.


The Benefits of Regular Family Meetings

Regularly holding family meetings helps children learn the drill and participate in a supportive and constructive way.  It provides them with a platform to voice their opinions and concerns while feeling that their input matters.  By involving children in the decision-making processes, they develop a sense of responsibility and ownership within the family.  They also build their problem-solving skills by being a part of the family meeting process, which will help them in various personal and work-related situations throughout their lives.


Narrowing Down the Topic of Discussion

To keep the family meeting focused and productive, it's essential to choose a specific topic of discussion and avoid getting distracted by tangents.  Whether it's the Family Screen Time Schedule or any other salient issue, narrowing down the topic allows for a more in-depth exploration of potential solutions.  If family members express interest in discussing other topics, make note of their request and set a time soon to hold another family meeting dedicated to that topic.  Keeping family meetings short and to the point is critical to their success and to maintaining an overall positive mood around family meetings.


Brainstorming and Decision-Making

During the family meeting, encourage everyone to brainstorm the pros and cons of different options for resolving the issue at hand.  This is a core element in the S.O.L.V.E. problem-solving method (see Solve Your Parenting Problems in 5 Steps), which is a great strategy to teach your children to help them approach any problem they encounter in an organized and rational fashion.  In the family meeting context, examining the pros and cons of each option voiced allows each family member to contribute their ideas and opinions while constructively reviewing their feasibility and potential success for resolving the point of discussion.  By involving everyone in the decision-making process, you foster a sense of collaboration and shared responsibility, and you feel better about the decision that you, as the parent, must ultimately make.


Maintaining Your Role as the Loving Authority Figure

While it's important to hear family members' opinions and support their feelings, it's crucial to maintain your role as the loving authority figure.  Let your children know that, ultimately, as the parent, the final decision rests with you.  This helps establish boundaries and reinforces the understanding that you have their best interests at heart.  One thing that we have found tremendously helpful during family meetings is reassuring our children that one day, they will likely have an opportunity to be a parent, and at that point, the responsibility to make the final decision will lie with them.  Knowing that their turn will come and they can “right any wrongs” in the future often helps appease children who feel any discontent over the decision-making process during family meetings. 


Emotion Regulation and Effective Communication

Throughout the family meeting, it's important to stay calm and collected, modeling emotion regulation skills and effective communication skills.  By managing your own emotions and encouraging others to do the same, you create a safe space for open dialogue and problem-solving.  Be sure to host family meetings at a time when you can keep your cool.  Usually, planning them in advance is better than reacting to an immediate frustration (e.g., somebody peed on the toilet seat again, and you sat on it and are infuriated, so you decide to host an immediate family meeting to discuss toilet etiquette).  Even holding off an hour or so from a triggering event can help the family meeting run markedly more smoothly!


Take-Home Message

With the new year upon us, take the opportunity to hold an effective family meeting and discuss a fresh start for your family.  By fostering effective communication, trust, and understanding, you can make decisions together that will shape your family's weekly routine.  Remember to focus on a narrow topic, involve everyone in brainstorming and decision-making, maintain your role as the loving authority figure, and promote emotion regulation and effective communication throughout the meeting.  Together, you can create a stronger and more harmonious family dynamic for the year ahead.  Schedule your next family meeting this week, and see how these tips help turn the experience into a successful problem-solving and bonding experience!


Holding regular family meetings is part of the Consistency category of my 5 C’s parenting framework (click here to learn more about the 5 C’s).  To view more posts in this category, use the category search menu on the right of your screen.  Keep up the good work on your amazing parenting journey!

P.S. Be sure to download my freebie called How to Hold a Successful Family Meeting to have these tips handy when you host your next family meeting.


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