Welcoming the new year is a great time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. This past year has been challenging. However, challenges can provide opportunities for learning — a key principle of Positive Discipline.
A POSITIVE DISCIPLINE TOOL FOR 2022
When parents share a challenge they are having with a child, the first question I ask is, “Are you having weekly Family Meetings?” I ask this question because I know that challenges can be reduced significantly through regular family meetings. During the family meeting process, children can learn all the valuable characteristics and life skills we hope for them. Does this mean the end of challenges? No. It does mean that challenges provide opportunities to focus on solutions in respectful and effective ways as a life-long process.
Whether you make New Year's Resolutions or not, I encourage you to make a commitment this year to having regularly scheduled family meetings. I promise this will create a more peaceful home environment and you will be able to look back at 2022 and see how many challenges you were able to turn into opportunities for learning and growth.
10 STEPS FOR EFFECTIVE FAMILY MEETINGS
- Introduction. “We will read these steps until we all know them. Who would like to start with number two?” (If children are old enough, they can take turns reading the steps.)
- Compliments or Appreciations. “Each of us will share one thing we appreciate about each member of the family. I will start. I would like to compliment __________ for _____________.” Give each family member a compliment, and then have everyone else do the same.
- Family Meeting Agenda. “The agenda will be placed on the refrigerator so everyone can write down problems during the week. You’ll notice that leaving dishes in the sink is on the agenda for us to practice problem solving.”
- Talking Stick. “This item will be passed around to help everyone remember that only one person can talk at a time, and that every- one gets a turn.”
- Brainstorming. “Brainstorming means thinking of as many solutions as we can. While brainstorming, all ideas are okay (even funny ideas) without discussion.”
- Focus on Solutions. “Let’s practice with the problem on the agenda. Who would like to be our scribe and write down every suggestion?” (If your children aren’t old enough, you can take this job.)
- Encourage the kids to go first. “Who would like to start with some wild and crazy ideas?” (If no one speaks up, you might need to get them started with some wild ideas and some practical ones by saying, “What about throwing dirty dishes in the garbage? What if each of us takes one day of the week?” But first allow for silence.) If someone objects to an idea, say, “For now we are just brainstorming for solutions. All ideas will be written down.”
- Use the 3 R’s and an H to assess proposed solutions. Encouraging solutions must be (1) related, (2) reasonable, (3) respectful, and (4) helpful. “Who can see any solutions we need to eliminate because they are not related, reasonable, respectful, or helpful? Our scribe can cross them off after we discuss why.”
- Choosing the Solution. “Do we want to narrow the ideas down to one solution or try more than one? We can evaluate how the solution or solutions worked during our next meeting, in one week.”
- Fun Activity. “We will take turns choosing an activity for the end of each family meeting. For tonight I’ve chosen charades. Who will volunteer to decide the fun activity for next week?”