There’s a new kind of fun and calm out there in the name of the Better Behavior Wheel, invented by Julie Butler and her family in central British Columbia. In an interesting twist on charts and discipline, this versatile wheel can be hung on a wall or toted with you in the car and on vacations.
It’s a way to get whole family involvement, and a little bit of humor to get us over the discipline bumps. Kayla Fay, publisher of Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet? says, “This is the proverbial spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down! Only a loving parent could come up with such an effective way to discipline children.”
As the Wheel Turns
Originally, the wheel sprang from constant battles between Julie’s 9- and 12-year-old children, David and Laura. With battles raging in their home, Julie and her husband decided they must find some way to keep the peace. Julie says, “We hated the atmosphere of tension that would invariably follow these exchanges. Our once happy home was being turned into a war zone, and it felt like there were land mines scattered beneath our feet. One night, in desperation, we called the kids into the living room and told them how upsetting their behavior was. We asked them for suggestions on how we could restore peace and serenity back into the family.”
The kids were sent to their room to come up with at least six appropriate consequences for their next fight. David and Laura presented the family with consequences like:
Clean the other person’s room
Do dishes for the other person
Make the other person’s bed for a week
Lend your favorite CD or game to the other person for a week
Make a list of ten good things about the other person
Hug and make up….
These suggestions were arranged around the perimeter of a board, and a spinner attached to the middle. The premise was that the spinner would choose the consequence for them, and they would hang the board in plain view in the kitchen. Julie remembers, “We crossed our fingers, and waited. 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. Occasionally we’d see one of the kids standing in front of the board, idly flicking the spinner, checking it out. But the fighting had stopped.”
Of course, the battle was won, but not the war. Ten days later, the fighting began again, but this time they were prepared. Says Julie, “We called them both into the kitchen, took the board down off the wall, and placed it on the table. They knew what they had to do. How could they refuse? They chose the consequences. They practically invented the board. It landed on the most dreaded consequence of all: Hug and make up!”
Once the fighting subsided, Julie realized there were other behaviors she also wished to curb. “It seemed like the kids were always leaving the lights on when they left a room. Or they’d leave the TV on when they went to bed. Why not make another wheel with consequences related to wasting electricity?”