BELIEVE IT

Happy-family tips can improve your health

By Derek Clontz
December 20, 2006 at 11:26 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

You can achieve greater happiness in your home by persuading family members to work together for the common good, say experts who offer tips for encouraging the team spirit.

And the changes won't just make life a little easier for you.

Living in a dysfunctional family generates stress that can be damaging to your health.
And by making changes to reduce the tension, your risk of heart disease, stroke and other stress-related ailments will drop.

"The family that works together with everyone pulling in the same direction is more successful and happier than the family that doesn't," Dr. Wallace Denton, author of the book Family Problems and What To Do About Them, told the Herald-Guide.

He offered this tip to for making your home a happier place:
- When assigning chores to children and other family members, sit down, talk things over, and make it clear what is expected of everyone. Negotiate if necessary to make sure all family members agree that the assignments and work loads are fair.

Remember, too, that you need to be consistent in enforcement if someone doesn't fulfill his or her end of the bargain. If Susie is supposed to make her bed, but mom does it for her when she forgets, mom is encouraging Susie to "forget" more often - leading to family conflict, Denton explains.

- Negotiate what the penalty will be if someone fails to obey instructions. If a husband goes out with the boys and arrives back home at 2 a.m. instead of the 11 p.m. he promised, the family might agree that his penalty will be to come home three hours early the next time he goes out with the guys.

Marriage counselor Dr. Ben Owen agrees that "families who work together are happier families."

He offers these suggestions to help you get on the happy-family bandwagon:

- Merge family goals whenever possible. Say, for example, that you want to reduce your utility bills and the children want more allowance and the parents want to take a cruise. Offer everyone part of the money you will save if they cooperate in conserving water, electricity and gas.

- Make a game of chores. See who can mow the lawn the fastest and keep his room the neatest.

- Let ALL volunteers pitch in. If your 5-year-old daughter wants to help with the dishes, resist the temptation to say "no" because you feel she's too little. Let her help and learn.

- Seek and listen to everyone's ideas when making major family decisions. Family members are more willing to cooperate if they feel they contributed something to the family’s goals and direction.

- Use positive reinforcement. Parents should compliment a child when he does a good job - and spouses should compliment each other. Showing approval of your mate and your children will result in a family that works together more willingly.




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