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Book Freak #46: How to Have a Happy Family

Book Freak is a weekly newsletter with short pieces of advice from books. Bruce Feiler writes the “Th

Book Freak

February 12 · Issue #46 · View online
Short pieces of advice from books

Book Freak is a weekly newsletter with short pieces of advice from books.
Bruce Feiler writes the “This Life” column about contemporary families for The New York Times. Here is advice from his book, The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More.

Have your kids pick their rewards and punishments
“By picking their own punishments, children become more internally driven to avoid them. By choosing their own rewards, children become more intrinsically motivated to achieve them. Let your kids take a greater role in raising themselves.”
Solve problems quickly by agreeing to start negotiating
“One of the things that happens in the world is that people try to avoid conflict. Whereas in the home, you can’t. You’ll end up getting divorced or becoming estranged from your kids. Keep in mind, the hardest part of any negotiation is agreeing to start it. Once you’ve gotten past that emotional barrier, the solutions usually present themselves.”
Ask three questions at your weekly family meeting
 “1. What things went well in our family this week? 2. What things could we improve in our family? 3. What things will you commit to working on this week?”
Vote first, talk later
“I was shocked to learn that groups are better at making decisions if participants express their views at the start of a meeting, before they’ve had a chance to listen to anybody else. Countless studies have shown that once the discussion begins, the people who speak first tend to persuade others of their position, even when their positions are wrong.“
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Book Freak is published by Cool Tools Lab, a small company of three people. We run the Cool Tools website, a podcast, a video review YouTube channel, and a couple other newsletters, including Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales, What’s in my bag? and Recomendo. I hope you’ll check them out.
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