Paying for Peace

My kids have been fighting like cats and dogs for a while now and it drives me crazy. We were headed out on a 12 hour car ride to Disneyland and I wanted to deter the fighting. I went back into the archives of my childhood and pulled out an idea that my mom did with us on one of our trips- she paid for peace. At the beginning of my family’s week long road trip, my mom gave each kid a roll of quarters for spending money. That meant we each had $10 to spend for the week on whatever we wanted, and $10 was big time back in my day and in my big family.

But there was a catch! If we fought with a brother or sister, we had to give my mom a quarter back. I am proud to say that I made it to Cali with $9.75! I had the most money! (No wonder I was the favorite:) I think my older sister might have even owed money by the time we got there.

So I tried the quarter idea with my kids because desperate times called for desperate measures and I wanted to enjoy my vacation too. I gave them each a roll of quarters in a Ziploc bag with their name on it. I explained to them that if they fought with each other anytime during the vacation, they would have to give me a quarter back. I decided to tack on complaining and whining too; since within the first hour, my daughter was bored and complained about dinner options.

Early on in the trip my husband and I showed no mercy. Elle lost 4 quarters in about one minute’s time. She (and the other kids) understood that mom and dad were serious. She lost only 3 more quarters the rest of the week.

The kids wanted to know if they could earn quarters back. After some thought and discussion, we decided they could. However, we would not give them a quarter back for saying sorry on a fight that had already happened- that seemed too easy. We decided they could earn a quarter back for being a peacemaker and actively avoiding fights in the future. For example, if they shared their dinners, or let someone else push the elevator button, or gave up their seats because someone wanted to sit there, or they let someone else choose the movie, etc. (You know the fights we hear.) You can decide what works best for your own family.

Initially, I was worried that “paying for peace” wouldn’t be as effective with my kids as it was for me because they don’t fully understand money and its value. But the quarter method actually worked wonders for the whole week, not just the car trip. The kids understood they were giving up something and there were consequences to fighting. They got along great and we had a peaceful, delightful vacation. Paying for peace was worth every penny quarter.

Goofy Kids with Goofy

I wonder if this method could be adapted to work at home every day…somehow?

6 Comments
  1. I’m glad to know that my kids aren’t the only ones that fight. It’s been horrible lately. I don’t know if it’s their ages or what, but I’m going crazy. Most of all, it makes me sad. I want them to understand how important their relationship is, I know it will happen, one day. I love this idea and would like to see if there is some way I too could make it work at home. Let me know if your ultra creative mind comes up with something. :0) Glad it worked for your trip.

  2. Yes , I was that older sister and yes, I owed mom about $20.00 bucks by the time everything was said and done. Not my finest moment.

  3. The education nerd in me has come up with a solution to keep my kids busy, learning and make the trip fly by! Each child is given a folder with a card that tells what scholastic related tasks they can do to earn tickets. Each task (i.e. writing a 50 word paragraph, reading 15 minutes, doing a math worksheet, . .) is given a ticket value. They also have a card that has Prizes and their ticket values (30 min of movie time, Mystery prize, soda or gatoraide). Last trip we’d gone 4 hours with each child working dilligently before we heard, “how much longer!”

  4. We did this on our way to and from St. Geroge last week. Each kid started with $6 in quarters and the day after we got home I took them to the dollar store to spend it. There was much less fighting and more trying to be peacemakers. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Yeah Shelley! I am glad it helped. And I am glad you lowered the money for the length and purpose of the trip. That was good thinking.