Monday, October 29, 2012

Peace Points

My beloved third child needs the world to respond to her; she needs to know if you like what she's doing, whether she does it better than anyone else. She will ask for, insist on, and demand attention from most anyone she feels comfortable with. If she really loves and trusts you, when all else fails, she will pinch, yell, jump, poke, do ANYTHING to get you to notice her. For the record, we are not a cold, distracted family; she just entered the world needing more attention than the other four of us can steadily give.

Her yearning for attention has resulted in some pretty negative interactions with her siblings, particularly Ezra. I have watched and tried to stay out of the way, believing pretty firmly that they will come to a workable solution for both of them. Seven-and-a-half years in, I've decided that there are too many negative patterns between the two of them, and I can see similar patterns extending into more of her interactions with all of us. It seems high time to do something.

Two weeks ago, I introduced the idea of "peace points"; these are tied to behaviors that either create or undermine peace. Being overly sensitive does not calm our environment, breathing into your sister's ear is disruptive to everyone, unobtrusively helping with another's chore makes life better for the entire family.

Each child starts the week with ten points. At the end of the week, if all three children have eight or more, they may each spend $1 on candy. If any child has 10 points, that person may have $2. (Candy is a hot commodity in our house; it's one of the upsides to deprivation in childhood.) Points may be regained, as well as lost. The trick here is that each child is dependent on the others to reap the reward, and they all actually like it when all of them have the same treat. They will each advocate for the others as the week comes to a close to make sure everyone has as many points as possible.

And finally, I see Sylvie trying to measure her responses to annoyances, like someone quietly enjoying a book or wanting her to put her shoes away. I see her trying to frame her wants and needs in a friendlier way. I see Ezra trying to be tolerant instead of provoked. I see Phaedra tempering some of her passive pettiness. The whole system is kind of a bother, because I am the banker of points, but two weeks in, it seems worth the effort.


  1. Nice post.
    I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this nice information. I really appreciate your work, keep it up.
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