Since Ryan and his friends worked out an Anger Wheel of Choice after there was a Big Fight, we’ve had another playdate at our house. I thought I’d share how I handled the next step of the process.
One afternoon last week, A. and H. knocked on the door and wanted to play. I was holding the sleeping baby, so I told Ryan to invite them inside to talk before they went out to play together. We got the Wheel of Choice out and I told them all that I wanted to review it with them. A. and H. were impressed to see that we had made their ideas into a picture. I think impressed is the right word—they seemed pleased for sure, smiling and pointing.
A. read each choice out loud, pausing to re-enact the “Make a Mad Face” and “Hit Yourself” options. All of the kids giggled and I made sure that they all still agreed to their plan. They did, and they went out to play in the back yard. (I think Livy might have been over that day, too, but I can’t quite remember.)
Because I am not a fool, I went outside after a little while to check up on the kids. Just in case. :o)
As it happened, they’d all climbed the fence and were in the other kids’ yard. So I wandered close to the fence to have a listen and peek at them.
Then I heard “You’re a cheater!”
I think I held my breath as I watched through the fence. The three boys ran from the back of the yard to the patio, with Morgan trailing behind. Even though someone (couldn’t tell which kid) was still saying “Cheater!!!” nobody appeared to be upset. Odd.
Then when they all got to the patio, Ryan said, “Okay. Now we have to pick from our Wheel of Choices.” A. suggested “How about ‘Pull Up Grass’?” And all of the children agreed, and started pulling up grass.
What they were doing was role-playing using the Wheel of Choice!!! I couldn’t believe it. Never in a million years did I imagine that they’d do this. After they pulled up some grass, someone said “Okay, it’s someone else’s turn!” Then they ran to the back of the yard, someone accused someone else of a crime, or called a mean name, then they all came back to the patio and picked another option from the Wheel of Choice (Ryan insists it’s “Choices” by the way).
They did this a few times, then got bored with that game and went off and played something else for a while.
Now not everything has been conflict-free since then, but Ryan and A. have both come to get me when there have been problems. And we have helped them work through some issues that have come up. Conflicts are going to happen. But so far, so good—nobody has resorted to punching!