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From lying to fighting or forgetting to clean up, families tackle change

Published: Monday, Nov. 18 2013 4:00 a.m. MST

Huntley directs First Things First of Greater Richmond, Va. She said people need to be someone special and to belong. “If you have a mom who lives only for her children, when they leave, she becomes a fallen person. She needs to develop her own identity and then work to belong with others. People need room to be close and room to be apart.”

Everyone must be able to speak. “Coach people to say what they need but not with emotion. … Speak clearly.” Listen carefully, then reflect back what was said. Acknowledge feelings.

Being a compassionate listener inevitably leads to change. “It can melt a frozen heart,” said Lindner.

Finding time

Huntley commutes three hours a day, working in Richmond and living in Fredericksburg. She and Daniel use part of that commute to plan and discuss issues by phone. Friday night belongs to Jasper. They order pizza and talk about the week — what he did well and what could go better. They watch a movie or read a Bible story. “That’s when my son gets our undivided attention and is not competing with anything. Some issues must be addressed as they come up, but it’s nice to know Friday’s coming,” said Huntley.

Time together is ideal for helping kids figure out how they’re special. Affirming them can lead to positive change, she said.

One crucial thing is making sure the “order in the family is correct, that parents are in charge and kids aren’t running them," she said. "Spouses should set rules together and broken rules need realistic consequences. “You can’t say, ‘if you don’t go potty, I am never reading you a bedtime story again.’ You can say, ‘if you don’t go potty, you have to go to bed 10 minutes earlier.’ ”

Poncher's BILY requires parents to post rules. Hotels have them and houses should too, he said. “No smoking, loud music, whatever. The rules are for the way you want your house run, the way you want everybody in the house to be,” he said. Consequences for broken rules must be clear.

Rules might include a curfew, going to school each day and maintaining grades. It means doing homework daily and completing chores, as well as being respectful. “It’s going back to basics,” said Poncher.

Markman created a Smart Change journal that’s rooted in the science of behavior to help people make changes. It can be downloaded at smartthinkingbook.com.

EMAIL: lois@deseretnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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