Friday, 29 November 2013

The Bean Counter Game

As parents, we have been falling down over and over in the area of disciplining our little imp, Benjamin.  Defiant to the core, nothing seems to be working.  We take away privileges, we withhold rewards, we send him to cool down on his own, we remove him from the situation, we clearly explain expectations, we allow natural consequences...but there seems to be a real disconnect most of the time.

Benjamin doesn't seem to be connecting behaviour with consequences.  Once a consequence happens, he becomes so focused on it that he forgets what behaviour led to the consequence.  Then all we have is a 4 year old melting down because he doesn't get something and he can't for the life of him remember why. 

And so, two years after the "terrible twos" kicked in, we are still facing many battles every single day, with the result of many tears, much anger, yelling, battles, and contention.  Two proverbs come to mind:

The definition of insanity is doing the same the over and over again and expecting different results.

If the student cannot seem to grasp the concept, then the problem is not with the student, but with the teacher.

Something has to change.  I don't want to battle my child every day.  I don't want him to constantly live in a state of distress and unhappiness.  I don't want him to be in danger because of disobedience (like running into the street, which he thinks is quite funny.)

I came across the Bean Counter Game in Oliver and Rachel DeMille's book Leadership Education.  (Much, much more on the ideas in this book to come.)  Looking for something new, I think we are going to try it.

The Bean-Counter is simply a jar of [dry beans,] a nice vase, and another jar to put them into.  Whenever someone does anything correct, noteworthy or admirable, beans go from the jar to the vase.  When the vase is full, an agreed-upon reward is meted out.

When anyone succeeds, all benefit.  No one is resentful or jealous one [someone gets a bean] because everyone gets closer to the Bean-Counter goal.  It is fun to be totally subjective in the awarding of beans so the game is never taken too seriously.  Beans can be awarded for having shoes on the right feet or for clean ears.  Beans can be awarded for being not-as-grumpy-as-one-might-have-been after too little sleep, or for exactness in obedience.

So, as all parents often do, we are shifting around, trying to find something that will work.  And please, please, please - if you have dealt with something similar, do share your tried and true techniques!

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