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How David & Laura Helped Invent the
Wheel of Dreaded Consequences
When David was nine and Laura was twelve, the battles started.
Prior to that, they got along great. Laura was always protective of
her little brother, and he in turn, doted on her.
Perhaps it was about needing space, asserting independence…whatever
the reason, it drove my husband and I crazy. It would start over
the tiniest of excuses. One minute the house would be quiet, and
the next they’d be shouting at one another.
“Mom, Laura won’t give my CD back!”
“It’s not yours. It’s mine!”
“No it isn’t. I got it for Christmas!”
“No you didn’t. I did!”
And on and on it would go. Until, finally, one of us would have to
intervene. And there would be a truce…sort of. At least until the
We hated the atmosphere of tension that would invariably follow
these exchanges. Our once happy home was being turned into a war
zone, and it felt like there were landmines scattered beneath our
One night, in desperation, we had a conference. We called the kids
into the living room and told them how upsetting their behavior
was. We asked them for suggestions on how we could restore peace
and serenity back into the family.
Off to their rooms
Well, we didn’t resolve anything on the spot. We sent them to their
rooms with instructions to each come up with a half dozen
appropriate consequences that we could impose the next time they had
The following day we were presented with a list of consequences from
each. Some even looked pretty good. Examples: Clean the other
person’s room; Do dishes for the other person; Make the other
person’s bed for a week; Lend your favorite CD or game to the other
person for a week; Make a list of 10 good things about the other
person; Hug and make up….
We decided to arrange the consequences around the perimeter of a
board, and then we attached a spinner in the middle. When you gave
it a spin, the spinner would eventually stop and point to one of the
consequences. Then we hung the board up in the kitchen, in plain
sight. We crossed our fingers, and waited.
It was amazing. Just the presence of the board, hanging on our
kitchen wall, had an instant calming effect on the atmosphere in our
home. Occasionally we’d see one of the kids standing in front of
the board, idly flicking the spinner, checking it out. But the
fighting had stopped.
Well not forever. It took about ten days before they forgot about
the board and peace was shattered by another battle.
We were ready.
We called them both into the kitchen, took the board down off the
wall, and placed it on the table. They knew what they had to do.
How could they refuse? They chose the consequences. They
practically invented the board. It landed on the most dreaded
consequence of all: Hug and make up!
The tension was broken as they awkwardly gave each other a hug,
mumbling apologies. We all had a good laugh, and life resumed.
Wow, we thought days later when there’d been no further
skirmishes…if this thing works so well for arguing, what about some
of the other issues that we seemed to be always struggling with.
Wasting electricity, for example. It seemed like the kids were
always leaving the lights on when they left a room. Or they’d leave
the TV on when they went to bed. Or they’d take half hour showers.
Why not make another wheel with consequences related to wasting
Well, eventually and inevitably, we ended up making consequences to
cover seven different issues, or themes. Excessive Arguing was
joined by A Job Poorly Done, Leaving the Lights On, Stretching the
Truth, Taking Without Asking, Talking Back, and Not Putting Things
And then, because we felt that extra good behavior should be
recognized, we added another theme called Just Desserts, consisting
We called it The Wheel of Dreaded
It has worked beyond our wildest expectations.
In the past we’d often let behavior slide.
“David…it’s 8:30. Get the dishes done.”
“I know.” From downstairs where he’s watching TV.
“David. It’s 9:00. Get these dishes done right now!”
Until we’d get angry. And then the consequences would end up being
out of proportion to the infraction. And blood pressure would rise,
and anger would reign.
“DAVID…GET YOUR BUTT UP HERE RIGHT THIS MINUTE AND GET THOSE DISHES
DONE, AND YOU CAN FORGET ABOUT GOING CAMPING THIS WEEKEND!!!"
But with the wheel…
“David…it’s 8:15…you haven’t started the dishes yet. I’m afraid
we’ll have to spin the wheel.”
“I’m sorry, Dear. It’s really not up to me. Those are the rules we
all agreed on. Gee, I hope you don’t land on a really bad
The amazing thing is…we’re no longer the bad guys. We can be
actually sympathetic to the plight of our kids as they drag
themselves up to the wheel. It’s no longer an us against them
issue. It’s the wheel that they have to answer to.
But the greatest thing of all…we hardly ever have to use the wheel.
It hangs on the kitchen wall, acting as a watchdog and reminder.
It’s mere presence has worked miracles.
We want one too
After sharing our experience with our friends, and demonstrating the
wheel to them, we have received widespread encouragement to make
them on a commercial basis. Ultimately we thought, why not? It’s a
great product. We know it works. If it can help others the way it
has helped us, it almost seemed a shame not to make them.
We had a couple of false starts, where my husband tried to get too
fancy. He started making them out of 2 inch thick wood stock, with
a center disk mounted on a ball bearing roller. He’d come out of
the shop everyday covered in sawdust. He loved what he was doing,
but it was far too labor intensive and we knew we’d have to price
them higher than the market could bear. Then he tried making them
out of plastic. (Has anyone ever tried to make a rubber mold?)
This was even worse.
Eventually we returned to our original design. We had to modify it
somewhat. In order to accommodate all of the themes, we used
removable disks with the consequences placed on the face. We
attached the spinner so that it could be snapped on and off. Then
it was easy to remove the spinner, place the appropriate disk on the
board, snap the spinner back in place, and it was ready to spin.
We even made a Virtual Wheel – a download version that can be played
on the computer. (This is my husband’s favorite because he spent so
many sleepless nights working on it.)
It’s been four years since we had to send them to their rooms, but
David and Laura get along great these days. They’ve both turned
into wonderful teens, and we’d like to think that the Wheel shares a
huge portion of the credit for that.