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Family meetings - they aren’t just for the Brady Bunch! Having regular family meetings can benefit every family. They’re a great time to coordinate schedules, praise each other, share information, or just connect as a family after a long week. If the idea of adding one more meeting to your to-do list has you running for the hills, don’t worry- family meeting can be quick and fun! To make your family meetings most effective and enjoyable for all family members, consider the following 8 tips:

  1. Aim for the meeting to last 10-15 minutes. Younger children may lose interest after that. If your children are older and have a longer attention span, you can extend it a bit if needed.

  2. Set a reasonable time so that everyone in your household can attend. If you set a regular time, such as after dinner on Thursdays your family can plan around it. We wouldn’t want anyone to get left out of any important decision making!

  3. Make it something to look forward to! There will sometimes be serious discussion but it should not be every meeting. If you only have family meetings when there are serious discussions to be had, your children may begin to dread the meetings. Topics could include something as simple as deciding on a family activity for the weekend, or discussing what movie to rent. Maybe have a special dessert at each family meeting, or have it on your family game night.

  4. Nip problem behaviors in the bud. Before you start having meetings teach your children how to bring up topics and talk without offending others.

  5. Write it down. It may be a fun task for an older child to be the "secretary." A younger child may enjoy the responsibility of putting the “meeting minutes” in a binder that they’ve decorated. Or you may choose to rotate the responsibilities to each family member. Whatever you choose, don’t force anyone to record the meeting- we want it to be an enjoyable time!

  6. Give everyone a chance to speak. You may choose to use a talking stick if you think interrupting will be an issue.

  7. Give positive consequences or rewards. Praise for listening to others, not interrupting, participating in the meeting, and any other positive behavior you see, even if it’s small!

  8. Consider having a regular format, but stay flexible. Agenda topics might include: scheduling upcoming events, brainstorming ideas, giving kudos, and wrapping up the previous week. Allow for open discussion about what is and is not working. For example, if your child is struggling with their morning routine you could help him brainstorm ways to make it work for him.

    Using these 8 tips, your family will be well on your way to becoming family meeting pros! You will find that this time together helps your family become more organized. You’ll also have a regular opportunity to connect and share with each other. Go ahead, schedule a family meeting for tonight!

If you found this information helpful, or would like more support in correcting your child’s misbehavior, Thornwell would love to talk to you. Please reach out to Tracie Seng, your local Family Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (470) 223-5980. To find out more about the Building Families Program through Thornwell, please visit their website at http://www.thornwell.org/programs/building-families-program/.

 

Most families have rules, or expectations for children. These rules are part of your family’s culture and can often be “unspoken.” Maybe your family expects that children should treat their toys and other material possessions with respect.

These unspoken rules may be clear to you. But are they clear to your child? Have you ever told your child, “You know you’re not supposed to do that!” Does he really know? Of course common sense comes into play at some point, but things that are common sense to us as adults, may not be as obvious to our third grader who has had a lot less life experience.

Family Rules 

In order for everyone to be on the same page, it is helpful to have a list of family rules written where everyone can see them. To create the rules, you may want to have a family meeting. As a family, you can decide on 5-7 simple rules for everyone to follow. If you have more than 7 rules your children may have difficulty remembering them, and it will be harder for parents to enforce them.

In order to have only a few rules that apply to lots of situations, think broadly. For example, instead of having these three separate rules: no hitting each other, no taking or breaking each other’s toys, and no screaming at each other, you could have the simple rule of “Treat others and their property with respect.” Ideally, rules work to capture your family’s morals and values. Some of our other favorites are – “Mom and Dad are the boss,” “We listen the first time,” and “We communicate instead of fight.”

After the rules are established it is a good idea to have a conversation with your children about what each rule means and what the consequences are for breaking a rule. It’s important to allow your children to have input as you create and implement the rules. This helps them feel responsible, like their opinion matters, and will give you more buy-in from them when it’s time to enforce the rules.

Don’t forget to have fun with it! After the rules have been agreed upon, your family can make an activity out of creating a piece of art with the rules on it, making sure each artist leaves their autograph. Displaying it somewhere prominently in the home would serve as a nice reminder, not only of the rules, but also the time you spent as a family working together to create them.

Keep in mind that rules should be revisited as your children grow. The rules that your family has when you have toddlers may be different than what you have when they’re teens. It’s a good idea to have an annual check in during a family meeting to ensure that the rules are growing with your family.
 


If you found this information helpful, or would like more support in correcting your child’s misbehavior, Thornwell would love to talk to you. Please reach out to Tracie Seng, your local Family Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (470) 223-5980. To find out more about the Building Families Program through Thornwell, please visit their website at http://www.thornwell.org/programs/building-families-program/

Written by Tracie Seng, LMSW 

Family Specialist- Building Families Program of Thornwell

“Why should I praise my child for doing something he should be doing anyway?” Countless parents ask this question. Upon deeper exploration, we’ve found parents worry that praising children is akin to spoiling them. Others feel their children will believe they aren’t required to do the activities for which they are praised, such as chores.

In Support of Praise

Let’s reframe this for a minute. How does it feel when your spouse comes home and thanks you for making dinner? Sure, it’s something you were going to do anyway, but how does it make you feel when they take the time to say thanks? You’ll probably feel better the next time you make dinner, and the feeling of being appreciated will put a smile on your face!

Coming up with, and giving, a consequence is hard for most parents. You worry it will cause your child to fly into a tantrum, or sometimes it seems like your punishment doesn’t seem to make a difference - the misbehavior just keeps on happening! Often this is because the consequence we chose isn’t effective, or it’s just not the best option for the situation.

The ultimate goal of discipline should be to help children recognize misbehavior, and learn what they should do instead in the future. Consider these 5 points the next time you need to correct your child’s misbehavior and want your consequence to be effective:

5 Ways

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