By Julie Butler
When David was nine and Laura was twelve, the battles started.
They would start over nothing. One minute the house would be quiet, and the next they'd be shouting at one another. Our once happy home was being turned into a war zone, and it felt like there were landmines scattered beneath our feet.
One night, in desperation, we sent them to their rooms with instructions to each come up with some consequences that we could impose the next time they had a fight.
The following day we arranged them around the perimeter of a board with a spinner in the middle. Then we hung the board up in the kitchen, in plain sight. We crossed our fingers, and waited.
It was amazing. Just the presence of the board, hanging on our kitchen wall, had an instant calming effect on the atmosphere in our home. The fighting had stopped.
Well not forever. It took about ten days before they forgot about the board and peace was shattered by another battle.
We were ready.
We called them both into the kitchen and placed the board on the table. They knew what they had to do. It landed on the most dreaded consequence of all: Hug and make up!
The tension was broken as they awkwardly gave each other a hug, mumbling apologies. We all had a good laugh, and life resumed.
Wow, we thought days later when there'd been no further skirmishes...if this thing works so well for arguing, what about some of the other issues that we seemed to be always struggling with? We ended up making consequences to cover seven different issues, including one of rewards for when they were especially good.
We called it The Wheel of Dreaded Consequences.
It has worked beyond our wildest expectations.
In the past we'd often let behavior slide.
"David...it's 8:30. Get the dishes done."
"I know." From downstairs where he's watching TV.
"David. It's 9:00. Get these dishes done right now!"
Until we'd get angry. And then the consequences would end up being out of proportion to the infraction. Blood pressure would rise, and anger would reign.
"DAVID...GET YOUR BUTT UP HERE RIGHT THIS MINUTE AND GET THOSE DISHES DONE, AND YOU CAN FORGET ABOUT GOING CAMPING THIS WEEKEND!!!"
But with the wheel...
"David...it's 8:15...you haven't started the dishes yet. I'm afraid we'll have to spin the wheel."
"I'm sorry, Dear. It's really not up to me. Those are the rules we all agreed on."
The amazing thing is...we're no longer the bad guys. It's no longer an us against them issue. It's the wheel that they have to answer to.
But the biggest bonus - they seldom have to spin. It hangs on the kitchen wall, acting as a watchdog and reminder. It's mere presence has worked miracles.
We want one too
After sharing our experience with our friends we have received widespread encouragement to make them for others. Ultimately we thought, why not? It's a great product. If it can help others the way it has helped us, it would be a shame not to make them.
David and Laura get along great these days. They've both turned into wonderful teens, and we'd like to think that the Wheel shares a huge portion of the credit for that.
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