It's a rainy Sunday afternoon and Jake is bugging his Mom. "I'm boooorrreeed," he whines. Mom hands Jake the choice ball. " Jake, boredom is your choice. So what are YOU going to do about it?" Rather than owning Jake's boredom, Mom put the ball in Jake's court. Excellent. Jake suggested they do an art project together. Way to go, Mom!
The Johnsons are out to dinner and hungry little Suzie starts to meltdown. Dad pulls a ball out of his pocket and hands it to his daughter. "The ball is in your hands now, Suzie. You get to make a choice how you respond." The ball distracts Suzie and reinforces the fact that no tantrum is going to help. She holds it together and the Johnsons enjoy their meal together.
Use the CHOICE Ball......
Grab a ball, any kind of ball, as long as it is relatively soft. Write the word CHOICE or MY CHOICE on the ball. Whenever your child is about to throw a tantrum, have a meltdown, argue, whine, try to get out of taking responsibility, etc., hand this CHOICE BALL to your child. Use one or several of the following phrases as you explain this concept to your child:" The ball is in YOUR court." "YOU now are responsible for how YOU respond." "YOU are responsible for YOUR attitude." "The decision is out of my hands." "You have the power to control your rewards or consequences." Over time, you should be able to use fewer prompts and simply hand the ball to your child. What you are doing is physically handing over responsibility for behaviors, attitudes and actions to your child. Your child will begin to realize just how much control over his or her life he or she has.
I don't know about you, but it has gotten to the point before where I would be willing to try virtually anything to stop my son's tantrums and whining. The "choice ball" really doesn't sound that far fetched. It certainly sounds like it has the potential to work. I may just give it a try myself. If you do the same, please let me know how it works for you and your child.