The Dice of Doom
This discipline device adds a bit of fun to the arsenal of Time-outs and revoked privileges and I can take no credit for it. It is a hand-me-down technique. A mother of seven gave it to me when she had four teenagers living at home.
Here's a scenario:
Kid one, overwhelmed with frustration, crosses the line and yells, "Get away from me!"
Kid two ups the anty and retorts, "You're a poophead!"
Every other kid in the house joins in a chorus of, "Oooo!" followed by, "Duh-duh-duhhhhhhhh!" Which is the ceremonial entrance song of the Dice of Doom.
Mom steps in, saying, "Dice of Doom, you two!" The Dice is brought out and rolled with kids begging for Mercy!
Let me explain what it is before I explain why it works so well.
What is it?
It's a box, covered with butcher paper. Written on five of the six sides is a boring housework task. On the sixth side is the word mercy.
Our five boring housework tasks are as follows:
- Wipe windowsills
- Mop a bathroom floor
- Run the duster over everything
- Dust baseboards
- Straighten up the family games shelf
How do you use it?
This is a simple adaptation of a Time Out. Instead of standing in a corner, the child is given a task to accomplish. It is in addition to chores.
The child rolls the dice, you cheer them on, adding the chant, "Mercy! Mercy!" as you deem appropriate. The child accomplishes whatever task is required. At the completion of the task, forgiveness is asked and granted by all parties. If Mercy is rolled, mercy is granted: no task is given and all is forgiven in the moment.
When do you use it?
We use this whenever someone's dignity has been injured. When a child has forgotten to respect the authority of a parent by backtalk or eye-rolling, it is a good time to use it, but it is better used in cases of sibling squabbling. When a child has forgotten to respect the dignity of a sibling by aggravating, squabbling, shoving, name calling, or poking fun, it is mandatory. This entire set up is designed to intervene before fists or tears fly. It's an early intervention.
I don't use it all the time. Maybe once a week or so, if that. Frankly, I forget to use it or I don't have the wits about me to use it when I should. It's in the tool bag when I want to pull it out and it works.
How does it work?
First of all, this is a Time Out. Time Outs work by removing the child from the source of frustration. Second of all it provides for instant distraction and redirection and at the same time that the tasks are just physical enough to blow off a little steam. Thirdly, it completely resets the tone by replacing the "ritual" of an argument with another (slightly sillier) ritual to perform. Finally, justice is instantly and equitably served. Unless there is a clear cut case of pure and unadulterated innocence, all parties involved roll the dice.
Why is it fun?
Because you make it fun. You introduce it with all due pomp and circumstance. You show how each of the tasks will be performed. You model rolling the dice. You also model the begging and bargaining, "Mercy! Please let me get Mercy!" or "Not the mopping! ANYthing but the mopping!" Then model the appropriate reaction. "AAAuggghhh! Mopping!!" or "MERCY! Whew!" And sometimes, rarely, you roll it yourself.
"Whoops! I just blew it when I yelled at you. I'm sorry about that...Dice of Doom for mom!"
While the kids are working, I tend to "supervise." It's funny how when kids' hands are occupied, their mouths are freed. I have gotten to the root of more problems "listening in" on someone working on their Dice of Doom task.
It works for us. Well enough that I had to pass it along.
Over time this will cut down on the squabbling. It will increase the respect for siblings. It will also assist them in learning how to curb those impulses to unkindness that we are all tempted with. When Momma has a better day with the kids, she has more to give at the end of it.
This has been a Wifey Wednesday Post. To have an even more Wifey Wednesday visit Sheila Wray Gregoire at To Love Honor and Vacuum.