I have to credit the readings that I’ve been pouring over for this summer’s Child Life Specialist class for the idea, or at least the hint of the concept.
Or perhaps it was JB blowing into the master bedroom in a flurry of rage, frustration and tears with yet another story of how BW was bugging her just minutes before we were to head out onto our first family road trip that spurred the need for something easy, quick and effective.
The prospect of seven hours on the road with two bickering minions ‘sharing’ the backseat was enough to make me want to send them on their way and enjoy the quiet of the house.
And then the idea came to me, and shockingly it worked.
We raided the game ‘Connect Four’ for the chips and before we piled into the car I explained the rules.
1. Each MinYon starts the day with four ‘chips’.
2. Whenever they want to share a ‘bicker’ story with mama or daddy they must first give up a ‘bicker chip’.
3. When the ‘bicker chips’ are gone, they cannot approach mama or daddy with their complaints until the next day, unless it’s a ‘911’ situation or involves blood, bones, barf or brains.
4. No saving ‘bicker chips’. Each person starts with four and may have no more than four chips at any one time.
5. No borrowing. If you don’t have your ‘bicker chips’ with you, you cannot share your story.
6. If you lose a bicker chip because you didn’t take care of it, it’s gone, and it/they will not be replaced. Not even the next day.
Shockingly, it worked. Each child gave up one chip on the first day of our trip, and from that point on they guarded them – just in case something ‘big’ came along and they needed to express themselves.
Each one of them would begin to complain about the other, we’d ask them if they wanted to give up a ‘bicker chip’, and they’d stop, look at us… ponder for a moment, say no and go on their way.
Charles and I were and are genuinely surprised that it worked for our trip, and continues to work even now that we’ve returned home.
Each day, the bicker chips have been handed out, and each day the little pile of them remains on the counter – seemingly forgotten and no longer needed. JB and BW have become much better at working out their issues between themselves, and our summer has become much more pleasant.
I’m hoping the novelty doesn’t wear off before school starts up again…