Friday, June 26, 2009

Time for a Tune-up!

Summer is a good time to begin thinking about making changes in family routines for the new school year. Being pro-active and planning ahead helps to avoid many conflicts and battles before they start. Often, though, we wait to address problems like “The breakfast dishes are STILL in the sink at dinner time!” until we are in the heat of the issue. And then, things can get ugly.
Think back on the last school year and see if you can identify any stumbling blocks or issues that created conflict for your family. Was it a challenge to get everyone out the door on time because people couldn’t find their shoes? Did children tell you at the last minute that they needed supplies for a project or a ride to an after-school event?
Once you have identified one or two problem areas, arrange a family meeting. Ask family members to agree on a day and time (30-45 minutes) to meet and plan ahead. Put this on the calendar, and tell everyone that they need to commit to the meeting. Some families meet weekly at the same time so that it becomes part of the family routine. Make it fun by having a special snack or treat.
Set groundrules for your family meetings. Things such as “Everyone listens, no one criticizes”, “One person speaks at a time”, and “Stick to the agenda” are great examples of guidelines to keep your meeting running smoothly.
Come prepared with the list of issues you wish to discuss, and don’t over fill the agenda. One or two issues at a time work well. Get input from all family members, come up with a plan that says what each person will do to help resolve the problem, and agree to review how it is working at the next meeting.
Most importantly, do not discuss major issues such as a teen pregnancy or an individual child’s problem like a bad report card. Think of family meetings as a tune up for your family to keep it running in tip-top condition!

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