We recently introduced a weekly family meeting. It’s a chance for the five of us to sit together undisturbed and talk about the week we have just had, and about the week coming up. Within just a few weeks, we have had some surprising results.
Purpose of a Family Meeting
The idea of a family meeting came from Big Life Journal. (If you’re not familiar with Big Life Journal then I can highly recommend taking a peek for resources for your highly sensitive child (and every other child for that matter!)).
Whilst we all strive for family connection, our daily routines can soon hijack our good intentions.
I have three children, all highly sensitive. Often, life gets it the way. We need to plan around school, football trainings, archery, dentist appointments, play dates, tiredness and overwhelm. You name it. And so a family meeting is a guaranteed moment each week when the five of us come together and talk.
Plan an Agenda
What do we talk about? Well, Big Life Journal has a free printable with lots of tips and an agenda so we’ve been using that. Some weeks we skip a section, some weeks we add our own items.
In general, we talk about what went well the previous week. We talk about our highs and lows. We talk about what was fun, and what was challenging.
Then we look to the week ahead. We discuss what we have planned for the week. Each member of the family says what they are looking forward to, what is bothering them about the coming week, what they need support with, and what goal they’d like to achieve.
Naming the Source of a Worry
A surprising outcome has been listening to my sons naming the source of their worries, or telling us that they need help with outing their emotions in some way. During a family meeting they have been more able to tell us what they are worried about!
Many parents of highly sensitive children have to deal with their fair share of meltdowns after school or a busy day. In the heat of the moment it’s easy to forget that your child hates feeling unable to out their emotions in a way that feels non-threatening. Anger is scary.
During one of our family meetings, one of my sons specifically asked us to help him with his anger when his bucket gets full. It’s concrete. It’s specific. And it’s something we can work on with him.
In the same week, another son told us just how anxious he was about a presentation he had to give in school that week. He explained that he felt blocked, and he needed our help to get over this hurdle.
In short, family meetings have given my sons the platform and space to really think about the obstacles they are facing in the coming week and ask for help. There is a complete focus on how they are feeling, and that helps them give their feelings a name.
It also gives them the opportunity to name and celebrate their successes.
Family Meeting Tips
- Keep it short.
- Don’t force participation.
- To avoid everyone talking at the same time have an item on hand that the speaker holds. We use a pen, but the ‘talking feather‘ is a powerful tool. Only the person holding the item may talk!
- Change the roles around and ask the kids what they’d like to do during the meeting – write notes, chair the meeting etc.
- Make it fun by preparing a few snacks and drinks.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel, download the free Big Life Journal printable to help with planning.
Over to You
I would love to hear from you about your own family meetings – share your tips below!
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