decision of familyHow do we become much more intentional and specific about the kinds of relationships kids need at home, at school, and in other places they spend time? In attempting to bring insight to this question, Search Institute proposes five essential actions in a family’s developmental relationships. A majority of families with children ages 3 to 13 in this study, want help with how to “share power,” one of the five essential actions.

These young people are saying to their parents and adult relatives: Hear my voice and let me share in making a decision.

A family’s reservoir of relational power

decision makingThe following ideas from Search Institute illustrate “that families share power through the everyday ways they interact with, care for, and invest in their relationships together”:

  • “Respect the child’s opinions, even when you disagree.
  • When you’re in a disagreement, take time to understand each other’s point of view.
  • Be open to changing your opinions on important topics based on what you learn from the child.
  • When the child doesn’t understand what you’re trying to teach, try to show her or him in a different way.
  • Create something new together that neither of you has done before. Options could include devising a new recipe, building something, painting a picture, or creating a piece of music.
  • Develop new interests based on things you learn from the child.
  • The next time the child comes to you about a large or small problem, don’t provide the answers or solve the problem. Instead, say something like, “Let’s see what you can do,” and then ask the child to find solutions with your guidance.”

I like this one

One way I share power with kids is to provide them with two positive choices and they make their decision without interference. For example, with a preschool child at the park, I’ve said, “It’s time to go home now. We can walk to the car through the picnic area or we can walk around the swing set. Which is best for you?” With older kids I might offer two different, parent-approved snacks to choose from.

What works in your family?

Tweetable:  Sharing power within a family is not easy to navigate. Evaluate your family against these seven actions as you interact with, care for, and invest in your relationships together. Click to Tweet