Practice the Empathic Process

This is the fifth blog post in an eight-part blog series, Seven Simple Solutions to Smarter, Less Stressed Kids. Each post contains one new solution to help families grow together and help improve academic performance.


Conversation is a natural way we connect with each other, but often we’re doing more talking than listening. Practicing the empathic process strengthens your family bond by building mutual relationships and reduces stress by opening the heart rather than contracting against it.

The rules of engagement in the empathic process include both intimacy and respect; it teaches collaboration and compromise. When children are invested in the rules, they are invested in the consequences of violating those rules, therefore they are more likely to follow the rules. This is how we build confidence and competence. Each person takes a turn speaking, and while that person is speaking, everyone else is silently but actively listening.


Make family meeting times a priority. Set aside 10 minutes at the same time each day or 30 minutes at the same time each week.


  • Meet in the kitchen, the heart of the home, where nurturing happens and alchemy. Here, cooking occurs and things are transformed.
  • Do not hold these meetings in a specific person’s place of power: no bedrooms, offices, or even playrooms.
  • Give each member of the family an equal opportunity to speak.
  • If you have younger children who find the concept of waiting for their turn difficult, try using a neutral family symbol, such as an apple or a bookmark, and teach them that only the person holding the symbol is allowed to speak.
  • Topic idea: ask each family member to share one high and one low point of the day.