Boys Town Helps Bring Dramatic Changes to Quarrelsome Family Friday, Mar 27, 2015 Page Image Page Content Boys Town Central Florida works with families of every make-up – from two-parent to absent parent, from single-child to multiple-sibling.These families also face every type of challenge – parental stress, poor communication, financial hardship, medical issues, behavioral aggression, abuse and addictions.But no matter how different or difficult their situations may be, these families all share a common desire – to be happier, healthier and whole.That was true of the Elliott family, who sought help from Boys Town Central Florida’s In-Home Family Services ®. “We hoped the program could help us have more structure in our household,” explained Trenton Elliott, who learned about Boys Town from a close friend. The dad of two wanted less arguing and more responsibility from his kids.Trenton’s 15-year-old daughter Tessa had become defiant and stubborn. She didn’t want to do chores or homework, or properly care for herself. A diabetic, Tessa wasn’t diligent about taking her medications, eating healthy or staying active, regardless of Dad’s warnings.Younger brother Ethan was emotionally immature. He did whatever he wanted and copped an attitude anytime Dad disciplined him.A lack of structure in the home, coupled with Dad’s empty threats and lots of yelling, left everyone on edge. The family dynamic had devolved into an unproductive, unending cycle of demand and admonitions, screaming and ignoring. That was the situation facing the Boys Town Family Consultant who began visiting the family every week.To help Trenton, Tessa and Ethan start repairing their relationships and communicate more respectfully, their Consultant emphasized skill building. Tessa learned how to better manage her time, make healthier food choices and show respect. Ethan was taught calming strategies so he could control and manage his sometimes out-of-control emotions and behaviors.Simply teaching Tessa and Ethan new skills wasn’t enough, however. Both had to be motivated to replace their old, disruptive behaviors with what they were learning. To encourage these behavioral changes, the Family Consultant had Dad write a “Skill of the Day” on a whiteboard every day. When they used the skill, Tessa and Ethan earned positive marks. If they had enough marks at the end of a week, they were rewarded (sleepovers proved popular). It didn’t take long for the pair to realize that listening to Dad instead of always arguing made their lives easier and more fun.The Consultant also mentored Trenton and his fiancée Molly on effective parenting strategies. He started by highlighting the positive things they did and then built on that foundation to address areas where they could do better, such as communicating their expectations more clearly and consistently.The Consultant was particularly impressed by Molly’s commitment and enthusiasm. She took an active role in the family, not wanting the whole burden of disciplining or correcting the children to fall on Trenton’s shoulders. The couple learned how to work as a team and their consistency paid off.With patience and perseverance, the Elliotts found a new groove. Now they’re no longer stuck in the rut of hollow threats and shouting matches. Tessa watches her diet and manages her diabetes, and Ethan has dialed down his attitude. Both are thriving and more respectful.Trenton and Molly continue to practice the lessons they learned and have absolutely no regrets about seeking “outside” help.“It was such a great program,” Trenton said. “I just wish we had done it a long time ago!” The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names may be changed and details altered to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.