My children have been fighting lately. Nothing too dramatic, but they’ve been picking at each other and tattling on each other and it seriously diminishes the peace in our home. One night a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about how it has been frustrating to referee their squabbles throughout the day, and I began to pray about it. How could I lessen the discord in our house? As I was praying, an idea popped into my head.
Last fall we had trouble getting our children to hang up their coats after they came inside. Coats and boots all over the floor get really tiresome in the winter, so we made a reward/penalty system to teach the children to put their stuff away. We had two jars, and every time someone hung up their coat as soon as they came in, we put a nickel in the good jar. If they forgot to hang up their coat, a nickel got taken out of the good jar and put into the bad jar.
Using this system affected all of them equally when one child forgot, so they soon became really good at reminding each other. We continued the nickel jar for almost a month until there was $10, and then we went to McDonald’s for ice cream. By that time, hanging up their coats had become a habit and we didn’t need to continue it. Could something similar work to eliminate fighting?
This time around, they each have their own jar. Each morning I put two m&m’s in their jar. When I see them acting kindly toward a sibling or helping someone out I praise them for it and put an m&m in their jar. When they fight, tattle, or annoy others they lose an m&m. At the end of the day, the children get to eat however many m&m’s are left to make the reward a little closer to the action.
It isn’t a perfect system, but it has cut out most of the conflict lately! It has been so good for the children to be more aware of their actions, and good for me as their mom to affirm them verbally for all the ways they show kindness to each other. We’ll stick at it for a month and see if we can create better relationship habits.
Bio: Tabitha lives in Alaska with her husband Andy and four lovable, rambunctious and sometimes frustrating children. She is constantly learning new things about motherhood and homemaking and loves to share them with others on her blog misadventuresofanalaskanhousewife.com or on Instagram @_alaskanhousewife.