In our Parenting Unplugged Radio program, aired on January 4th, 2012, I brought up an idea called, “The Angry Jar”. It’s where anyone in our family who loses their temper has to put a small fee in case they “lose it”. For the kids it’s .25 cents, for Dad it’s $1. At the end of each week, we have a drawing to see who gets to keep all the cash. The idea was born out of two 12 hour car rides with the two boys and me. At times, it was pleasant. At times, I earned my two dollars in fines. So, we talked about ideas that might work to help us with our tempers. The boys and I came up with the idea of rather than taking something away, as in a toy or time or love, we thought money might be a way to do it. It would have two lessons, one about money and one about our temperament.
Todd Adams of Zen Parenting did not agree with this as an idea. But what the hell does he know? He’s raising kids in Chicago for crying out loud! I kid because I care. I went to school in Chicago and Todd is a very knowledgeable parent. In fact, more should listen to him.
The objective of this idea is to create awareness around losing your temper. If you have one, then you know. When you lose it, you usually don’t know how bad you did. You flip your lid. I have never really realized how loud I get or how mean I may be. Now the deal is, anyone in the family can call you out on it. To you it may not appear like a temper burst, but if someone calls you on it, then you have to pay the piper.
So, what is this teaching us?
Todd Adams, thinks this will teach kids to stuff their emotions. If he is right, then I should be awarded the Crappiest Parent of the Year award because stuffing emotions is what I learned to do most of my life. So his point could be very valid, because often we only copy what was done to us. However, I don’t think it will create that. I want to teach my kids about responsibility and accountability. I feel losing your temper is a good thing. However, I am not a fan of directing that anger at anyone else. It’s important to teach kids how to let it out.
I am hoping that the “Angry Jar” creates an opportunity for Pause. Because it is scientifically proven that if kids are able to stop and name their emotion, they don’t lose their temper. The Angry Jar is my goal to create a deterrent that creates that Pause. Maybe in that Pause, the kids and I will gather our thoughts, leave the room and go into our bedrooms and beat the crap out of our pillows or our bed. Better that than screaming at Mom.
Why did I choose money? I chose it because the boys understand that dollars can buy things and in our family if they want something special, they can use their own money to buy it. We are on a tight budget and if we bought a $1 toy every time we go to the store, we would be spending an extra $500 a year. This is not the last idea I will try with my kids and myself. There will be others in 2012. Keep listening to Zen Parenting for all of their great ideas and tips, while I also suggest you jump over to Parenting Unplugged Radio every now and again to see how and what we are doing. Plus, don’t forget what’s most important, share the shows with a friend. I look forward to your responses…