Many young families love the idea of a family meeting or what we call a family roundtable. But just can’t see how it will work with young children. Often parents say that family meeting will be a good future event when the children are older. This certainly misses a fantastic opportunity to get started on the intercommunication skills. The early we build these skills the easier our child will find things.
Teach negotiation and resolution skills
If you’ve spent a few hours with a group of children it is inevitable that conflict happens. Some of your children are naturally good at handling conflict ( Maybe it was ‘caught’ in your household or maybe it’s part of their personality.)
Many children naturally are self centered.
- It is a big leap to feel empathy and consider the other person for many children.
- It is difficult to weigh up the fairness of the situation AND make the right choice.
When you’re triggered and away from home what happens next matters. Often these little guys are also angry and knowing what to do and say next means the difference between going home, staying and playing or a long conversation intervention between parties.
During the family meeting there’s a point for teaching and sharing how to do things. Re-enact the scene with plushes or other siblings and the family join in with what they would do in this situation. It’s a really powerful exercise as they get the practice of moving through the motions, they use the words and they get to do it over and over until they feel it is right.
It doesn’t have to be always after the event either. As families introduce situations to get them plan and try before they are in that situation. We love the character conversation cards for this as it’s easier to have a third party having all the troubles than only relying on what our children have trouble with.
It’s like a worn path in the grass. There’s an imprint and memory of being here before so when they come to a situation like this they have some choices about what they might choose to do than the usual choice, to think in the moment only.
Thinking in the moment doesn’t always work so well.
Negotiation and resolution skills take time to learn and they grow with you. Get in early and often. Start with regular conversations to practice your family way of handling things.
Part 1 Introducing family meetings to young families