Making Use of the Space Update

I wrote a post several months ago about making use of the space.  It came from a quote I read in the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families* by Stephen Covey.


Stephen Covey didn’t write the quote, he stumbled upon it in a book and it meant a lot to him. So he shared it:

Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our happiness.

Here is my paraphrase:

When something irritates/worries/angers/frustrates me, I have a certain amount of time before I yell/cry/worry/argue. In that amount of time I have a chance to choose my reaction. The decision that I make in that amount of time will influence my relationships if I replace my natural negative response with a positive, loving response.

In my original post I discussed that I had one child that had a lot of difficulty with his immediate reactions and not making use of the space.  What I want to share today is what I did to help him with this issue. 

This child’s gut reaction was to instantly respond to stimuli, often in a negative way that caused him much grief.  No matter how often we talked with him and tried to help him, he couldn’t take the time to take that deep breath and react (or not react) more positively.

So, what did I do?

After much prayer and thought, I did what any sane Mother would do…

I bribed him.

I came up with a point system that this child was completely in control of.  Anytime that he was going to react and he managed to stop himself and not get upset, he got 1 point.  If he did get upset about something, he had 5 minutes to get happy again.  If he got happy, he got 1 point.  If he was still mad and upset after 5 minutes, he lost 1 point. When he reached 100 points, I would buy him a $30 something that he had been wanting for a very long time.

I have to tell you, it was brilliant and worked perfectly.  The change in him was miraculous. Seriously, miraculous.  He has since earned (and received) the object of his desire and more than a week later, he is still mastering his emotions and reactions even without the points. I’ll probably have a point thing periodically, to reinforce the positive behavior, but I have been so impressed with the changes in him, I had to share.

I will point out one stumbling block we had to deal with.  Apparently, this child was so excited about gathering points, that one evening he was purposely angering his other siblings so they would get angry with him.  Then he could react positively and earn a point.

Diabolical, I know.

Normally I hate point systems – too much for me to keep track of.  But this child took full responsibility and it was never intended to be a long-term ongoing point system. He really stepped up to the plate and is a much happier person now. I’m so proud of him!

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  • Julie

    Don't think of it as "bribery" think of it more as "divine strategy" given to you by the best Father ever. You are depositing seeds of self control(which is a fruit of the Spirit) in him that will mature into fruit when he gets older. Blessings!
    Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.