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Family meetings can provide a wonderful opportunity to instruct kids on character development or other life education issues that often get neglected in the hustle and bustle of daily family life. When you do a little bit of this at each meeting, over time it will amount to a huge difference in your child’s social and emotional intelligence.

Not only will these activities provide valuable learning opportunities for you and the kids, but by discussing these things together, you come to know each other’s views and perspectives better, which leads to a greater understanding of one another.

Activity #1: Discussion of current events

Discussing current events allows you to have in-depth conversations with your kids on topics that don’t always come up in everyday life. Children enjoy being able to share their opinion on “adult” topics, since adults typically act as though children shouldn’t have one. And parents are often amazed to find out that their child is a more aware, more thoughtful, and more unique person than they imagined them to be. Pick an event yourself for the first discussion, and then allow children to nominate topics for future meetings.

Activity #2: Storybook discussions

Pick a short story to read during the meeting (or have each person read it on their own schedule ahead of time). Then discuss the story just like you might if you were attending a book club. Talk about the characters: their thoughts and feelings, their place in the world, how they fit in, and so on. Dig deeper into the nuances of the plot, and compare it to instances in your own lives. Even in simple picture books there are a number of subplots and lessons that can be explored, and children are great at finding topics that aren’t in the text.

Activity #3: Safety education

Family meetings are a great time to brush up on child safety issues. Go over fire escape plans, talk about baby care basics with big brothers and sisters, or discuss other important topics.

Activity #4: Movie or book reviews

Have each member stand up and give a brief summary of a book, movie, or television show that they liked or found memorable over the last week or two. These often grow into great discussions of different life topics, and since it involves a child’s passion (every youth has a favorite movie or TV show), they’ll find these discussion enjoyable as well.

Activity #5: Family betterment and education

Throughout our website you can find thousands of pages of information on subjects like psychology, social skills, and other self-help topics. Pick an appropriate subject and print out a page to read and discuss as a family. For example, you might read a section from our book The Psychology of Healing on how to find happiness, then have a discussion about what makes each person happy. Or give a summary on ways to deal with stress from our Family Recovery Handbook, then talk about the different things that cause us stress. As you discuss these better ways to communicate, deal with others, and handle stress, you’ll grow together.

This can also provide a more roundabout way to broach deeper issues that may be going on in someone’s life without putting anybody on the spot.

Activity #6: Quote of the week

Search the Internet for a different quote each week. Read it during the meeting, and then discuss it: How does it apply to us? What was the person thinking when she wrote it? What was his mood? How might you change the quote to apply it to an experience in your own life?

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