Family Meetings are Beneficial
In general terms, family meetings should be positive, giving family members an opportunity to stay abreast of upcoming events and discuss family goings-on. After holding a few family meetings, most parents find themselves in a nice groove. As a result, their kids experience family meetings as fostering a sense of belonging and community.
Tackling Hard Topics
There are time, however, when “course corrections” are required. A family meeting can be a productive way to address such issues. There are a few things that you should keep in mind:
- If your challenges are stemming from one family member, a family gathering isn’t the best forum – no one likes to be singled out. A private conversation would be more appropriate, and you will be more likely to cultivate productive discussion without other siblings present.
- Where appropriate, try to arrive at collaborative solutions. For example, if assigned family chores are being ignored, see if your children are able to contribute to a solution. You might be surprised what they come up with. You may need to suggest some options to get the ball rolling (a list on a white board or the fridge), but including your kids in a discussion around pros and cons will likely contribute to their ownership of the solution.
- As a general rule, begin your meeting on a positive note. Even if a portion of your meeting agenda is addressing challenging subject matter, be sure to open with a neutral item, such as the upcoming week.
- Try to speak in a “declarative” tone. For example, “Dad and I are noticing that …” or, “We are concerned that… ” These types of statements get the discussion started in a non-accusatory manner, and feel less direct.
- Do not be afraid of silence! We have been conditioned to avoid “dead air” during conversations, but giving your kids some time to think and problem solve is quite healthy. Remember as well, that kids with ASD and other neuro-developmental challenges need extra processing time… especially if they’re feeling tense!
- Remember not to over-talk! Fewer words are better, and if your child doesn’t respond immediately repeating/reiterating will likely not improve the situation
- Keep your cool. I have been talking to my clients a great deal about mindfulness in the last while. Do your best to keep your anxiety in check, and if in doubt, don’t blurt it out!!
To arrange a time to discuss your challenges and goals and to learn more about how I can help you, click the button below to send me an email!