Beginning Family Meetings – Part 2

Contibuted by Jody McVittie, MD

You’ve been courageous to start something new. You’ve done a couple weeks of compliments at the dinner table or another time and now you’ll add some structure.

There are two projects for this week:
1) Have a short family meeting (15 minutes) in which everyone gives compliments and together you plan a short family activity.
2) Do the family meeting

The meeting Set aside a more intentional time (after dinner or after breakfast on a weekend) to gather for your meeting.

Give compliments. Everyone gives everyone at the table a compliment (including themselves.)
Plan a family activity. Ask your family to plan something that you can all do together that lasts somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes.

Ideas might include:
• Family games: board games, card games, charades, hide and seek.
• Family outings: walk around the block, a trip to the park, an outdoor scavenger hunt, going out for ice cream.
• Family activities: movies, cooking together, making dessert together, or attending events.

• Let the kids lead this. Ask them to start with something short (10-20 minutes) in which everyone can participate. As your family gets better at playing or doing things together you can stretch the time frame. It is better to have a short success than a long failure.
• Keep it affordable and something that can be enjoyed by all in the family

Right away you might notice that this is harder. Not everyone wants to do the same thing! You won’t be the first family who has struggled with this. Together you can find a creative solution. Think about what is important from the child’s point of view.
• It has to be fair. (That doesn’t mean equal.)
• It is helpful if it doesn’t seem like the parent has a bias: better to use flipping a coin or drawing straws than have the parent influence the decision.
• Ideas other families have used: taking turns, drawing straws, flipping a coin, making a rainy day and a sunny day list, or rotating who picks the activity.

The activity When the time comes for the family activity aim for connection and fun. It may not go as planned. It may not meet your expectations. We are aiming for small steps.

Next week: Taking family meetings to the next level.

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