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