Things had been getting rather, shall we say, completely out of control around here lately. Certain young people were not listening the first time I told them to do something… or the second time… or the third… or sometimes at all. So, it was time for some re-training.
I thought about pulling out one of our ol’ behavior charts, or creating a new system based on check-marks or points or a positive-negative scale, but none of them seemed right to me. The idea that we are ultimately measured by how many good things we do minus how many bad things we do seems to lead to performance-driven people who are keeping track of their “points” all the time.
BUT, we are called to train our children, and they need to be taught that good deeds are right and bad deeds are wrong, so we figured there must be a way to do this, without making them feel that their worth depended on their behavior.
There were two basic concepts, then, that we wanted to address:
1.) You are loved (by us and by God) no matter what your behavior is
2.) Your behavior still matters because it affects other people, not just yourself.
So here is the system I developed to demonstrate that.
It’s called the “ROCKIN’ MOM’S ENERGY SYSTEM” – because it uses rocks, and illustrates my energy level… get it?
Here is how we explained it to the kids:
You guys are loved all the time, no matter what you do or don’t do. Just like God’s love, ours is not conditional on what you do.
Your behavior, however, is important when relating to other people. If you want to have good relationships in this life, you must realize that how you act affects others. To demonstrate this, in an effort to help shape your behavior, we will be using the Rockin’ Mom’s Energy System.
Here’s how it works:
1. The levels of rocks in each of your cups represent Mom’s Energy Level.
2. Each time you disobey, destroy something, disrespect an adult, or deliberately fail to follow through on an instruction, you will take a rock from your cup, representing the energy you have drained from your mother by making her repeat instructions, re-do a task, or reiterate the values of our home.
3. If you desire to put a rock back into your cup, you may try to replenish your mom’s energy by helping her out in ways such as: cleaning something up, helping out a sibling, showing affection to Mom or someone she loves, or being generally encouraging or helpful. Mom may find her energy rising, and if so, she will tell you that you can put a rock back in your cup.
4. Each evening at dinner, the levels of the rocks will be measured. If Mom’s Energy Level has been decreased, she will likely not feel like having a lot of “fun” with her kids in the evening. She will feel like she wants to relax in a quiet house. Depending on what level the rocks in your cup are in, you will be given certain privileges…. or will be going to bed early so Mom can get some rest.
5. Each morning you will begin with a full cup of rocks. Even if you lost all of your rocks the previous day, you begin each morning with a full cup. Just like God’s, our mercies are new every morning.
Each child's cup is labeled with 3 zones -- green, gray, and red. Each zone corresponds to certain results at the end of the day. For instance, if everyone is in the green zone, Mom will make a special dessert and they can choose a fun activity (read-aloud book, play a game, watch a show, etc). If anyone gets down in the red zone, they go to bed early, have extra chores AND must write me a letter, telling me about at least 5 things they love about me (to help boost my energy back up, since I'm energized by words of affirmation!).
We've been using this system for a couple of weeks so far, and I've been pleased with the results. The first day we tried it we had a LOT of rocks leaving cups.... In fact, two children wrote me letters that night because their cups were empty.
And the biggest reason I can say this system has rocked so far is because THIS was one of the letters I received -- from the 4-year old. It's the very first thing I've ever seen him write!
|"Deer Mom i lov yoo, lov Miles"|
I had no idea he even could write, so I wasn't going to enforce that part of the system for him. But without my knowing he went right into his room, found some paper and a marker, and emerged with this, very pleased with himself that he was following the system fully.
I was so happy with it that I completely overlooked all of the behavior that had resulted in all his rocks being lost all day.
My energy level was restored. :)