Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Magic of a Few Rocks

With the colder weather and the increased amount of time spent together within the confines of our house, it hasn't taken long for me to see an increase in the quarrelling between my kids which in turn makes me cranky and that only causes further augmentation of the problem. Having to split the kids up in separate rooms only alleviates the problem temporarily. Trying to keep them all where I can either see or hear what is going on (aka tomato staking) has worked in the past, but then I don't have time for housework or planning or anything else. Enter the timely post by Jennifer at Smooth Stones Academy called "An Idea from My Student Teaching Days".

The basic concept is to use a pocketful of rocks as a tool to remind yourself to be more positive and less negative. You start with the rocks in your right pocket. Every time you praise someone or speak in a positive way, you get to move a rock to your left pocket. If you speak in a negative or critical way, then you move a rock back to your right pocket. The goal, of course, being to have all the rocks in your left pocket by the end of the day.

I decided that both Jessie and I would give it a try on Wednesday. I started Jessie out with 10 rocks with instructions to move a rock to her left pocket any time she said or did something nice to either Violet or Benny. She was a little dubious when I gave her the instructions because she didn't see how she could be nice to her siblings (excluding Henry of course) when they were "always" mean to her. I explained if she just looked carefully, I was sure she could catch them being nice; and maybe, just maybe, if she started by being nice, they would be nice in return. Jessie kept her rocks in her pocket all day. By lunch time, she had managed to get them all into her left pocket. Violet and Benny were grinning from ear to ear and bursting with pride any time Jessie gave them a compliment, and as I expected, they cued off their big sister's change in attitude with their own attitude changes.

I, on the other hand, started out with 20 marbles. Alas, my poor marbles didn't last long because as soon as Benny and Henry realized there were marbles in my pockets, they began going after them. I put the marbles up and simply concentrated on considering both my words and my tone of voice before I spoke. Still, there was a definite decrease in the amount of quarrelling and negativity and a decidedly more positive atmosphere that day, so overall I have to say the rocks (and the accompanying attempts to be more positive) were a success. I'm sure we'll pull them out again from time to time as the need arises.


Our Westmoreland School said...

That is an excellent idea. Thank you.

MissMOE said...

I love the rock idea. We have been working on having more Christ like attributes this week--I think the rocks would really help me remember to be more postive. Thanks for the idea.