Rachel's Bean Counter Magic | Teaching Self-Government

Rachel's Bean Counter Magic

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<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;">Rachel’s Bean Magic</span></span></strong></p>

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<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>A few years ago a stateswoman, Rachel DeMille, shared a fun motivational program she used in her home, called “bean counter”, in a lecture I heard.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>I don’t where the idea of a “bean counter” originated from, but I do know that it is effective.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Thanks DeMille family!</span></span></p>

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<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;">Our "Refusing to Help Each Other" Problem</span></span></strong></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-indent: 0.5in;"><span style="font-size: small; font-family: Times New Roman;">Recently we have found another great use for the “bean counter” motivational system in our home.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>A couple of weeks ago I noticed a behavior which was working against our family mission and vision.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>And, the behavior was not isolated to one person.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>The problem behavior was spreading, like a disease, through the whole family.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>The <strong>feelings of frustration and contention</strong> were definitely on the rise in our home.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>The culprit was <strong>selfishness</strong> and the problem looked like this.</span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>Youngest son says, “Dad, will you get me a drink of water?”<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>Dad says, “Porter, you know how to get your own drink.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  You can</span> get it yourself.”<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Following this response, the son becomes frustrated and chooses to whine.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>The whinny behavior earns negative consequences and the son doesn’t get a drink because he is now busy learning how to accept a no answer.</span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>Why did Dad give Porter the response he gave?<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>There could have been many reasons.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Maybe Dad was in the middle of something and didn’t want to be bothered with serving drinks.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Maybe Dad was trying to encourage his young son to be more self-sufficient.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Or maybe Dad just didn’t want to get up off the couch right then because he was feeling comfortable on the couch. </span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>Don’t misunderstand me.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Children <strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">should be</strong> given no answers sometimes.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>If a parent can’t tell their child no, then the child will rule the home and the parent child relationship will be strained.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>I don’t agree with being a parent who pampers their child’s every desire.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>However, constantly being too busy or giving a message that you don’t want to get off the couch to help a child with a need gives the child anxiety and a feeling similar to abandonment.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Ignoring the needs of a child just creates more problems for the parent to handle in the long run.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"> </span></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>What could Porter have been thinking?<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>He could know things that Dad doesn’t understand.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Porter could have been thinking that the cups in the dishwasher are dirty and so he would have to climb up on the counter to get a clean cup.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>This could be a concern to him because he has been told multiple times that he should not climb on the counter.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Most importantly, he felt he had a need and might have felt that Dad didn’t think the need was very important.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>No parent would ever want their child to think this, but how often do we take the time to understand what they might be thinking?</span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>Another example of our problem is as follows:</span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>Oldest daughter is making lunch for her siblings.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>She looks at older brother and says, “Quin, please get me the jelly out of the fridge.”<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>Quin doesn’t even look at her while he walks past the fridge and says, “I’ve got to go feed the dog.”<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>After this short statement he walks out of the house.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>Why would Quin give a response like this?<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Maybe he forgot to feed the dog earlier that day, and just remembered; leaving him to feel it was really important right then.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Or, maybe he just didn’t want to bother doing something for his sister right then.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>What could Paije, the oldest daughter, have been thinking with this kind of response from her brother?<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>She could feel unappreciated for making lunch.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>After all, she was making food for all the children, not just herself.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>She could feel angry at her brother for not taking her request seriously and choose to become angry herself.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>The list could go on.</span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>These two experiences are examples of many similar experiences which started happening in our home over a couple of weeks.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>I can’t say I was exempt from being selfish either.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>In fact, I think that my husband and I were the ones who started the chain of selfish communications.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>For a few weeks we were really busy at our house.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>When the parents get really busy, they have a tendency to get really selfish with their time.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>When parents get selfish, it is only a matter of time before the children are also treating each other and the parents selfishly.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: small; font-family: Times New Roman;">Our Solution</span></strong></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>By the time our regular Sunday Family Meeting came around, I knew our “refusing to help each other” problem had to be my topic for family discussion.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>During the meeting I brought up the topic. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"> </span>We all saw how<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>not serving other family members when they ask for help was in conflict with sections of our family mission statement which state, “…We spread love and happiness to others…………..We have patience and wisdom in our relationship…”<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>We knew the Peck family had recently adopted some pretty selfish habits and our habits were affecting our family relationships.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>We all contributed ideas of what we could do to motivate our family to want to serve each other when asked and to be less selfish.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>We discussed earning extra chores for not helping others when asked, because the requests were like instructions.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Ultimately though, we decided that our family needed a positive consequence, or motivation, to really make a change of heart and get a feeling of working together on the project.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>All of the sudden the “bean counter” game came into my mind.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>I suggested we get a quart jar and enough beans to fill the jar.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>The system goes like this.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Every time a person asks someone in the family to do something and the person asked says “OK” and does what was requested the person giving service gets to put a bean in the jar.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>The whole family serves each other and adds beans until the jar is full.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>When the jar is full our family gets to go ice skating.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>We were all a little bit shocked at how often we ask each other to do things for us.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>We even started asking someone else to put a bean in the jar for us.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>This meant that the person putting the bean in the jar got to put two beans in because they were helping someone else get a bean in the jar.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span></span><span style="font-family: Wingdings; mso-ascii-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-hansi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-char-type: symbol; mso-symbol-font-family: Wingdings;"><span style="mso-char-type: symbol; mso-symbol-font-family: Wingdings;">J</span></span></span></p>

<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>The jar is filling up quickly.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>All the members of the Peck family, parents included, have started stopping what they are doing to help each other all the time now.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>I expect we will be going ice skating really soon.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>We won’t use the jar any more for a while after our ice skating trip, because I have found games like this can’t usually go on for too long or they loose their motivational value, and the family forgets about them.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>But, our family has already had a great reminder about how selfishness can ruin the feeling of unity in the home.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Thanks to the beans, we are much more conscious about the way we respond when someone asks for help.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>We have successfully played “bean counter” before to motivate secret service, and to motivate the four basic skills and school achievements, but this time we used it a little bit differently; and this time was just as motivating. </span></span></p>

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<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">            </span>Don’t forget to use positive consequences as motivations too.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Sometimes the positive focus is better than the negative.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>Maybe beans could help you improve a family behavior sometime too.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">  </span>I hope so.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">    </span></span><span style="font-family: Wingdings; mso-ascii-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-hansi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-char-type: symbol; mso-symbol-font-family: Wingdings;"><span style="mso-char-type: symbol; mso-symbol-font-family: Wingdings;">J</span></span><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman;">  </span></span></span></p>

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