The below family meeting agenda is a helpful outline for structuring a family meeting. It is particularly helpful when getting started with the concept of having regular family meetings.
Family meetings can be helpful for planning and maintaining family rules, increasing family communication and increasing family harmony.
We encourage families to institute a family meeting on a weekly basis. This encourages regular communication and problem solving. Families may choose to use family meetings for discussion, teaching a new lesson (such as problem solving), or simply having structured family fun time.
Step 1. – Check-in. The check in, allows each family member to express how they are feeling, how their day or week has been, and/or any items to add to the agenda. For younger children, parents may have a sheet with various facial expressions on it for children to choose from, to indicate how they are feeling. You may start with asking each family member to identify one positive aspect or event of their week. We have a number of different check-in activities available as an article on this web page.
Step 2. – Recognitions and acknowledgement
This can be based on individual goals set in the family, or positive events that have occurred. You may ask family members if they have anyone they would like to acknowledge (these can even be simple tasks, such as “Johnny let me share his treat” or more significant such as “Cara passed her driving test”. It is important that as a family you recognize and share in positive aspects routinely. The more recognition family members get for positives, the more likely they are to repeat them. Some families even institute awards to be given out at family meetings, such as “Helper of the Week”. Some families come prepared with certificates, or small rewards to make the recognitions even more meaningful.
Step 3.- Topics for Discussion
Topics for discussion nominated by family members (even the youngest children) are usually the most meaningful. Engage the children in brainstorming topics for discussion. You can even post an agenda up in the house for people to add to throughout the week. Remember you can’t tackle every family issue in one family meeting, so keep problems to a minimum. You may wish to carry over topics to the next meeting to ensure they aren’t missed. Topics can include: planning our weekend, curfew, picking up messes, chore completion, etc. Ensure everyone knows how to problem solve, and use our problem solving template and family meeting rules to guide you through the process. Record the outcomes of these topics so that they can be referred to in the future. You may find Ross Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving approach to be quite helpful in this process. Check out www.livesinthebalance.org for more information
Step 4 – Family Fun
It is important to end a family meeting on a positive note. Engage the family in a fun activity, whether it be a video game tournament, board games, make your own ice cream sundaes etc. Do it as a family, and make it enjoyable. Increasing pleasant experiences with each other helps to build harmony in the home.
Family Meeting Rules
One person talks at a time.
Everyone is important and valued.
Everyone’s opinion matters and is needed in order to make good decisions.
Treat each other with respect and without judgement.
Everyone has a right and responsibility to make their feelings known.
Attendance & participation of all family members is critical.
Create Win/Win Scenarios – “must give to get”
It’s O.K. to ask for a break, or to “back burner” items if the meeting becomes too conflicted, heated, or a resolution is not being obtained.
Other rules specific to the needs of your family as needed. Try to keep rules phrased positively (i.e. “do this”, as opposed to “don’t”).
Family Meeting Agenda
1) Check in
2) Recognition and acknowledgement
3) Topics for Discussion
4) Family Fun