Family meetings are a great way to promote constructive communication skills. During family meetings, everyone in the family can learn what each individual family member thinks and feels about a particular situation or issue. Family meetings promote the practice of problem-solving skills, and all members of the family have a chance to talk as well as listen. Learning to listen is an important part of communication.

Family meetings can be structured or flexible. You may want to have a regularly scheduled meeting to talk about events in the upcoming week, such as who will drive the kids to their activities and who will be in charge of which chore for the week. You might request individual concerns, create a list from them, and then discuss each concern one at a time during the family meeting. You can also decide to have a special meeting with a specific purpose, such as planning a vacation, holiday event, or family project, or for talking about a specific issue. If you are more comfortable with less structure, you can call a meeting at any time, even incorporating the meeting into drive time or meal time, and deal with issues as they come up.

Although each family member should attend the family meeting, not everyone may choose to speak. That’s OK. Family meetings develop respect for both speaking and listening. That said, it is sometimes helpful to find a way to designate whose turn it is to speak. For example, the person speaking might hold a small object—a special something—and then hand it off to give the next family member the floor. Those not holding the object know it is their turn to be listening respectfully. As the parent, you set the tone. Listen with sensitivity and speak with respect for everyone’s feelings.

More to consider: Always do your best . . .

As parents, we offer our children experiences that play a part in shaping their developing minds, and we offer ourselves as models. Children watch how we live, how we make decisions, and what we do.