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  1. Lucy McGilchrist 7 years ago

    WOw, ok so we can see how to fit this in , and even our 21month old is keen to contribute (mainly animal noises which we think are going to see animals 🙂 ) one question is do you do this when family visit or do you agree a plan as a nuclear family? I guess i’m wondering at times of family visits when stress is high has anyone introduced them to this or do you just do what you’ve previously planned (like go out every day to keep relations out in the open with others watching so conflict runs low!!)

    • Good question Lucy. Just thinking about how we do this. I don’t think we’ve formally introduced these concepts to relates but I think they’ve picked up that this is how we do it, and we have at times said that we tend to explore both the wants and needs and then make a plan. If a relative dismisses or discounts one of my kids, I’ll tend to just speak to my son or daughter and say “what were you saying hun? It’s important that everyone shares their thoughts” and invite them back in.

      This process often brings up a lot for parents who weren’t given the time and space for their thoughts and feelings when they were young. The parent’s own parent’s words and voice can push into the space with impatience, intolerance, frustration that the process is taking too long etc. It’s a really good idea to explore some of these feelings in your journalling or counselling or talking it through with a friend or partner. Otherwise that impatience will derail the more constructive communication and shut the children down again and again. And children who are regularly shut down, will then look for opportunities to shut down or shut out their parent’s words. The emotional aspect always plays a big part with all these PP skills.

  2. Sarah Kincaid 1 year ago

    When I was reading the question about the three year-old being a willing and active participant I was reminded of a situation from years ago, when I was teaching preschool. My three year-old class participated in a daily routine in which someone picked one of a number of cool little objects available and counted out the correct amount for the number of the day. I had been choosing one child each day to do it, based on a regular rotation, but it was such a coveted job that everyone was desperate to do it every day and little spats often broke out.

    One day, one of the kids asked if they could all do it. I did not believe that ten 3 year-olds COULD all do it, but I decided to give his suggestion a chance, with some conditions. I told them that they could all go and do it together IF they all allowed each person to have a say if they wanted to, and IF they all agreed by the end of a minute or two (can’t remember by now). If they hadn’t all agreed by the end of the time, then I would pick something to keep us on schedule. They agreed to try it so I let them go. To my utter amazement, they pulled it off! So the next day I let them do it again, and so on. They ended up doing it for most of the year, and I only had to pick a handful of times. Seeing ten 3 year-olds developing their negotiating skills was fascinating, as well as watching them choose roles like, leader, peacemaker, analytical thinker, etc., without adult intervention. When my supervisor came to observe my class, her jaw just about fell on the floor, and I understood her amazement. It was pretty cool.

    My point is that even 3 year-olds can learn to express their wants and needs and to compromise and make room for others’ wants and needs when they are empowered to do so. I think that including even very young kids in these kinds of meetings is a wonderful opportunity.

    I’ve also used meetings in some very dysfunctional elementary classrooms and the difference that they make is immediate and palpable. I’m a believer! I can’t wait to use them more regularly in my family.

    • Author
      Genevieve Simperingham 10 months ago

      Sarah, late replying but I LOVED reading this beautiful story which so well demonstrates how children, even at age 3, just love to be involved in problem solving and finding solutions. And indeed as you say “even 3 year-olds can learn to express their wants and needs and to compromise and make room for others’ wants and needs when they are empowered to do so. I think that including even very young kids in these kinds of meetings is a wonderful opportunity”. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this gem!!

  3. Victoria Maus 1 year ago

    We started to do family meetings about four months ago, after I came across the concept during a Waldorf homeschooling course I did online. We have a little meeting over a breakfast of pastries every Sunday, but this video has made me realise that we don’t include our daughters’ wants/needs as much as we could to get the most out of this.

    I guess our meetings have been more discussing particular issues that have arisen during the week (and the girls have contributed to a solution) and also letting everyone know about appointments, etc. coming up during the following week. I’ve been happy with the way it’s been working for us, but Genevieve has made me realise that the process could go a lot deeper.

    I’m definitely going to print out the template and use that this week. I think we could get a lot out of this, particularly as we’re a fairly child-led home educating family. I’d love for the girls to contribute their needs/wants for the week ahead. It’s also going to help us plan our weekends better!

    • Author
      Genevieve Simperingham 12 months ago

      Great that you had already been doing family meetings Toria. I’ll be interested to hear how it goes with this tweak of creating more space for the girl’s wants and needs and really bringing in the active listening. And then using the problem solving to continue to make sure everyone feels heard and validated during the process of making decisions and agreements. When our kids are young, it can be a challenge to keep a straight face when they come out with some VERY out of the box ideas, which can be so very funny and cute to us but oh so serious to them (or at least this is something I remember a lot about these meetings when the kids were younger). It’s all such great practice in sitting and being present with each other, practicing listening and acknowledging and validating and all this will become so much their natural and normal way of relating. And yes great to print out that family meetings template, the girls will enjoy the process of it being filled in.

  4. Theodora Platania 3 months ago

    Awesome tool!!! I have 2 questions to make
    1. If a child does not follow what we have decided together, how do we manage it?
    2. If the plan works for a few days and then they don’t want to stay on that, but there is no other option to follow on something else, we just validate their feelings, empathize with compassion with them, and stay to the first plan?

    Thank you in advance 🙂

    • Author

      Hi Theodora, so sorry I’m just seeing your questions now. Yes sometimes we need to accept the refusal to overall get more of the cooperation. But mostly it will be related to unmet needs, if our child hasn’t had enough of that warm quality connection for a while, they usually become dysregulated or very depleted in energy. So sometimes doing something together that they really enjoy will result in them being much more happy and willing to be cooperative. Sometimes we need to make it fun. Sometimes singing our request or having a little song for that activity really helps. I would say mostly keep moving through the units and like pieces of a jigsaw more of it will come together. Feel free to give me an example.

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