“You have to find her currency. You know, what’s important to her so that you have a leverage point.”
My friend who happens to also be a teacher mentioned this to me after I was about ready to kill Indigo, my youngest child. We were supposed to go meet our friends for dinner when she disappeared. We were late trying to find her. In the end, she went over to a friend’s house. The kids were seemingly home alone which meant they ignored the door. When they finally answered, I was about ready to kill her.
Indigo didn’t care. She was in trouble, but she takes it all in stride a bit too easy for punishment. Finally, after ranting at her knowing it was doing me more good than her, Garbanzo said, “That’s too bad – Ms Panda was going to take you to Oaks Park (a local amusement park) but I don’t think you are going now.”
This got Indigo’s attention. For about five minutes.
When I relayed the story to my friend after we finally arrived at the dinner, she told me to find her currency. So, it became a quest during the upcoming week of hell with Indigo.
Before I continue, I’ve mentioned that Indigo is smart, right? Like, does story problems in her head smart. When the same friend asked her to add two huge numbers, for example, Indigo figured it out. She figured the freaking trick out at six. My friend who teaches third grade later said she was glad Indigo wasn’t in her class when she taught kindergarten and first grade. Those are the challenges. Indeed.
The week after this incident was riddled with issues. Indigo was her usual smart ass self which got her into trouble. Trouble she could care less that she was in. This makes punishment hard. She will count down time outs. She will shrug if you take things away. She did the crime, she pays the price, so “whatever” seems to be her mantra.
Thursday, things came to a head between her and Garbanzo. She had been spending the day with Ms Panda. She had been in trouble more than she wasn’t. Garbanzo was done. The problem was the fact I knew it wouldn’t work. We had a discussion about it – and I decided to try something new.
I called Indigo into the room. She has a small coin purse that I asked her to get. She came back with it, and I told her the plan. Each day she would get 10 pennies. If she did something wrong, she would have to give a number of coins back to us depending on the offense. Whatever she had at the end of the day would be banked. Once she hit 20 coins, she could exchange them for something. But, she would only have those coins if she made the right choices.
The next day, we started this experiment. She lost two coins. Garbanzo said it was hilarious to watch the conflict in her face as she paid him her penny in penance. He took it, and they moved on. She had decided the night before that if she got 20 pennies, she wanted a piece of gum. So he would use that as a reminder if she was starting to falter. The second day, she didn’t lose a single coin. The third day, she asked if could trade her coins in for a temporary reprieve from her grounding. (Since she has problems with going off with her friends without telling anyone, she is grounded from playing in the front yard with them.) When we agreed, she counted out her pennies and went to play.
Over the weekend, the success continued. She was allowed to play in the front yard with her guinea pig. She brought her back inside, and asked if she could still play in the front yard with her friends. Later, she came back into the house to let me know that she was going to play next door with her friends, so I “wouldn’t freak out” if I couldn’t find her.
Monday night, I asked her how the penny thing was going. She had just got done doing a great job in taekwondo, and she said it was going well. I asked her if she liked not getting into trouble all of the time. She said she did. It was more fun. She liked not having to sit in time out.
I think we found her currency. I guess when my friend said “currency” maybe thinking about money would have been the first place to start. Oh, well….I just hope it continues working.