Yesterday my kids were totally sucky and pushing my every button and beating the crap out of each other and I went off on them in the car and told them that things were going to change.
For all of us.
They were on their best behavior until about noon today, and then things started going downhill.
I don’t remember exactly how it started, but Number 6 and 7 pissed each other off pretty badly, Number 7 called Number 6 a Dummy Butthole, then Number 6 called Number 7 a Stupid Vagina Head, and then fists started flying.
It took a magnanimous amount of energy to not totally lose it.
But I separated them and had each of them by an arm.
I told both of them to look me in the eye, and I asked them if I let go of their arms if they would stand still.
They both agreed.
So I let go of them, and I calmly said, “Do you remember when I got so mad yesterday when you guys were hitting each other?”
They both nodded.
“What do you think you can do when you get really mad at each other besides hitting each other?” I asked them.
And Number 7’s eyes lit up and she said “MOM! WHERE’S THE CIRCLE THING? WHERE’S THE CIRCLE THING? WE CAN USE THE CIRCLE THING!!!”
It took me a second, but I figured out what she was talking about.
Miss L, the Positive Discipline teacher at her preschool had sent home the Wheel of Choice a couple days ago.
I actually knew where it was, which was a minor miracle.
I’ll let Number 7 explain to you what the symbols mean and how you use it (it’s only 39 seconds):
The wheel of choice is a way for kids to choose their own strategies to resolve conflicts. You know, rather than us stepping in and solving the problem for them, because that doesn’t help them to figure this stuff out on their own.
Number 7 grabbed the Wheel out of my hands and brought it right over to Number 6 and explained to him that when you get mad you can stop or shake hands and agree or use an I statement ( “I wish you would stop”) or count to 3 (or more) or blow it away or stomp your feet or walk away or go chill out on your bed or a comfy, quiet spot.
And then Number 7 said, “How about if we shake hands and agree?”
And that’s what they did.
I was kind of blown away.
First of all I was blown away by the fact that Number 7 even thought to use the wheel of choice, and also by how well she knew all the stuff on it, because I had no clue what most of it meant.
But also, I was blown away by how well it worked! There were no time outs, there were no (empty) threats given out by me, and the whole incident was resolved so quickly.
Of course, I know this doesn’t mean all of our problems are solved.
But this Wheel of Choice is definitely useful and effective, and it’s a great tool to have at my disposal to help the kids recognize and learn ways they can calm themselves down without beating the crap out of each other and without me intervening.
And to be honest, I think I might need the Wheel of Choice just as much as they do.