I encourage you to make time for family meetings. When things are calm, you can discuss expectations and consequences if necessary. You can openly discuss your expectations on behavior and following rules. Your kids can even be part of the boundary making process. You can also see where your kids may be lacking in the love tank area and find ways to fill them up.
Creating a family standard needs to include the opinions of everyone and reflect your family values. Certain boundaries can be made together, like agreements on screen time or curfew.
Kids need to be part of the family team so they feel important, valued, and loved. Ultimately, parents are the the team captains, but that doesn’t mean we don’t include the ideas and opinions of the rest of the team.
Here are some key points on creating a family standard and family meetings:
- Kids are more likely to comply and help if they feel heard, appreciated, and part of a team.
- Ask everyone what kind of family they want to be part of.
- Ask everyone to talk about family values.
- Establish expectations for behaviors. (Like doing homework, not asking for things over and over after being told “No”)
- Discuss consequences. For instance, let your teen know they lose the privilege to drive if they don’t fill the car with gas or drive recklessly. Or, let your child know they may lose out on a movie if they don’t have their homework done or weren’t kind to you.
- Let them know consequences vary based on age and not every child will have the same expectations and consequences.
- Create mutual respect among the family by being empathetic, understanding, responsive, and allowing everyone to be part of the team.
- It’s OK to disagree. But we have to learn to respectfully disagree.
- Ask, “What can we do as a family to make us the best family we can be?”
- Discuss areas we all need to work on.
- If there are serious areas that need work, this may better be done in private with that child. We don’t want to embarrass them in front of siblings.
- Use helpful language: “I noticed we are having this problem. How do you think we can solve it?”
- Make lists of ways to solve problems.
- Set a good example. Be vulnerable enough to admit you have areas to work on too.
- Make sure you discuss love tanks. “How do you feel loved?” “What do I do that makes you feel loved?”
- Have regular check-ins.
Maintaining a positive and safe family environment can take work, but it is well worth it. Again, we can’t prevent all undesired behavior. Sometimes kids need to mess up to learn consequences. That’s when we meet them with love and empathy and follow through on the outcomes. We can take some small steps within our family to prevent some grocery store meltdowns or battles over chores. Our relationship with our kids is worth the effort.
By: Emily Scott, PhD
You may also like: