When it comes to raising our families, I think it’s fair to say that most of of us are aiming to create a positive family culture where everyone feels heard, respected and valued for their unique skills and strengths. We hope that this positive culture will result in respectful, confident children. Children who know their own worth and feel both connected to the world around them and secure about their place within it. But of course, as we’ve discussed before, emotionally healthy families don’t just happen. They require intentionality. They require us to pave a clear path for our children and instil a strong set of values that guides their actions and decisions.
This is where the family meeting shines. However, a lot of parents tell me they’ve tried family meetings before and they did NOT go well. The most common complaint I hear is that kids don’t like them. They get bored. Don’t take it seriously. Leave before it’s over. There is arguing. Complaining. Eye rolling. Storming off. And in some cases, it descends into an all in brawl. So in complete and utter frustration, parents give up and cancel the whole thing.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! You can make family meetings work well for your family. Let’s talk about how to hold a family meeting that actually works! But first, why are family meetings important?
The family meeting is an opportunity to address the everyday difficulties that arise within a family while also reinforcing your family values and living out your family mission statement. They are great opportunities for learning and growth for both adults and children. And they can proivide a safe space for children to make mistakes, practice skills, and explore their own ideas and beliefs.
And there are so many important skills children get the chance to learn and practice during a family meeting: listening to others, communicating respectfully, managing differences and resolving conflicts, problem solving and even empathy. They are a fantastic opportunity to build resilience and strengthen connections and they can significantly reduce conflict within a family when they occur regularly.
They can also be tricky. Because while we have the best of intentions when it comes to family meetings, they can quickly become a source of frustration and further fuel conflict instead of reducing it. In fact, like many of the parents I speak to, maybe you’ve tried family meetings before but gave up on them because they seemed to make things worse. I hear you. It has taken many years for my family to get this right. But now that we’ve had lots of practice, our family meetings run like a (mostly!) well oiled machine.
So how do you hold a family meeting that actually works? Read on to get my top tips.
Bringing home a new baby can be really difficult for parents. And knowing how to help your toddler adjust to a new baby can sometimes be the most difficult part! When they become big brothers and sisters, toddlers and preschoolers can become jealous, regress developmentally, become more demanding and clingy, and act out aggressively towards baby, or even towards you! It can be both frustrating and heartbreaking for parents to witness this. You just want your precious babes to love each other and get along, right? And they will (eventually!). Your toddler just needs a little bit of extra help and support as they adjust to their new role. Trying to see things from your toddlers perspective might also help.Read More →
During the pandemic, stress is daily and unrelenting - for kids and the adults in their lives. We’re all doing our best, but more help is needed to cope with heightening tensions, anxiety and fatigue (as we enter our third wave across the globe).
Whether you’re a front line worker dealing with daily risk, or at home with your kids trying to manage a new kind of workday, chronic stress has a corrosive effect on the brain and can lead to fatigue, and a weakened immune system. If left unchecked, chronic stress can also take a toll on productivity and personal relationships.
So what can parents and kids do to keep your daily stress levels in check? Well, there are a lot of simple strategies you can try - talking to friends, mindfulness meditation, journaling, doing art, listening to music, getting some fresh air and exercising.Read More →
If you have a school aged child, then you no doubt know all about after school meltdowns. They seem to come from nowhere, with no warning and no obvious trigger. Sometimes they start with an argument with a sibling during the car ride home. Sometimes it’s when you ask your child a simple question when you walk in the front door. And sometimes it seems to start from the moment you greet them at school.
And what makes these meltdowns even more confusing for us as parents, is that the feedback from the teacher is generally that your child has had a good day. A good week. A good term. That they are settling in well to their new classroom. That they are polite and respectful during class. That they are making friends and getting along well with others. That they have been an absolute dream.
So then who is this child who is coming home with you? Why are you seeing a completely different picture? Is it you?
Well, yeah. Kinda. But not in the way you might think.Read More →
Earlier this week one of my lovely Mindfulness for Children brought a post about calming tools and calm down corners to my attention. The post suggested that using calming tools for kids was teaching them to shut down their emotions. That using a calm down corner with kids sends them the message that we do not want to hear about their big, “negative” emotions. And that placing too much emphasis on calming down is simply another way of distracting children from emotions and teaching them to hide them from us.Read More →
The start of the school year brings with it all sorts of emotions. Nervous excitement. Hopeful anticipation. Happiness to be reunited with friends. Relief to be returning to routine and structure. Disappointment over the end of summer holidays that always feel too short. Dread over the return of those blasted school lunches. And of course, fear and anxiety about what the new school year may bring.
But ultimately, as our precious, back-pack laden babes head bravely into a new school year, most parents are wishing for the same thing. We want our kids to have a happy, successful school year. Whatever that may look like for them.
And with a little bit of forward planning, we can ensure our children really thrive at school this year. We can equip them with the tools, skills and support they need to have a successful school year. Here’s how.Read More →
Sze Quak awoke one morning to hear her seven-year-old daughter, Alice, singing alone in her bedroom. “She made up a song about wanting the coronavirus to be gone soon and wanting to go back to school,” Quak says. An only child, Alice has been confined in their Fullerton, California, home attending virtual classes since March. “Before COVID-19, she didn’t really want to go to school. Now, she’s begging to go back.”Read More →
If you’re a parent, then you have no doubt witnessed some BIG emotions in your children. And a lot of the time, those big emotions can really leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to respond. But of course, you do want to help your children in these moments, right?! So maybe you try to do or say things to ease their distress.
However, our attempts to help our children are sometimes not very effective, or can even make the situation worse. And that’s because we often attempt to distract them from their emotions, or try to convince them that things are not so bad. And while this is well intentioned, it can be experienced by our children as dismissive and invalidating. Do any of these sound familiar?Read More →