Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Marble Jar

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I'm once again joining in Works for Me Wednesday hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer. You can go over there each week and see links to many posts with great tips, or try to post one of your own next week. It's open to everyone.

I have figured out a way to give my 7 year old daughter incentive to do things routinely (without being reminded) and also encourage her to be extra helpful as well. It's called the marble jar. You need one empty jar with a happy face on it (I just used a Sharpie), one empty jar with a sad

face drawn on it, and somePhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting marbles. I will not identify which jar holds which of the marbles in this picture, so as to protect the innocent (or not so innocent).

When we started this process, together we decided things that would get her a marble in the "happy jar." These included getting completely dressed, down to her shoes, before coming downstairs. She also would get one for brushing her teeth before bed, without being asked (since I was still having to remind her most nights). Doing certain chores, right away when asked, such as feeding the dog, unloading the clean silverware from the dishwasher, watching her baby brother, doing homework in a timely fashion etc would also earn her a happy marble. She would get bonus marbles for being especially kind to her brother, or doing something without being asked that wasn't on the list, like getting the mail on her way in from the schoolbus. I recently awarded her one when I came downstairs and saw that she had turned off the TV and was reading her book.

The sad jar gets marbles if she argues with a grownup, doesn't do something after being asked, uses a disrespectful tone or look, does something that she knows she's not supposed to do, bothers her brother etc.

What really works for me is that using the jars takes the emotion out of a lot of our interactions. For example, the rule about being dressed and ready for school streamlined our mornings and made it so much simpler for me because there was no debate about if she had to have her shoes on before breakfast, if she could watch TV etc. Also, if she is doing her homework and getting up repeatedly, playing with her brother, talking etc, I can simply remind her that if she doesn't stay on task, she will get a sad marble. Again, no debates, no nagging, no procrastination, and even if she continues to delay, the sad marble speaks for itself, which means she doesn't usually argue about it, and I don't yell. In trying to be sure that I give her enough happy marbles, it reminds me to give her that positive reenforcement that she needs for those responsible things that she does that might have gone unnoticed or unspoken before.

The marbles usually speak for themselves, but I also wanted to start an allowance system, so I tied her allowance to the marbles. We subtract the sad marbles from the happy marbles and then I pay her 25 cents per marble.

16 comments:

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

When I taught school I used to do this with my classroom (well sort of). When the class as a whole was really good I would add a marble to the good jar. When they were horrible say, at music class, I'd take one out. When the whole happy jar got full, we would have a class pizza party or extra recess or something to celebrate. I never thought about using it at home with the kiddos! :)

Mama Duck said...

Great idea, I'm saving it for future use ;).

Beck said...

Great idea!

Katrina said...

I love your system - especially how it makes life easier for you, removes the tension from potentially emotionally-charged situations, and reminds you to give positive reinforcement!

Nettie said...

On of my daughters teachers did this, too. They got to pick what fun thing they got to do when the jar was full. They chose to have a "slumber party" - they wore their pj's to school and watched a movie with popcorn.

Mom2fur said...

Now, this is one I wish I'd known when my were little. It would have saved a lot of screaming and yelling. I think kids work much better with tangible things than with concepts. You can't see 'good' or 'bad' behavior...but you sure can see those marbles adding up (or diminishing!)

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

A similar system taught me good grammar! When my grandma came to visit she put jars on the cupboard for each of us kids with nickels in them...if we said "Ain'" "warshed" instead of "washed" or "it don't matter" she took out a nickel. Didn't take long to figure out what not to say or at least keep quiet in front of grandma!

Shalee said...

I love this idea! My daughter is turning 10 and I would love to find ways to remind her to obey without involving any emotions in it. Anything to remove potential arguements with a pre-teen definitely works for me!

Sandra said...

Great idea, I actually posted about a Jar too today, but it's a Chore Jar....check it out if you get a chance :)

melnel said...

I really like how this can end up being a positive recognition of her efforts--and how it isn't tied to candy or bribes. Great idea!

Jettara said...

Great idea. I have an 8 year with a behavioral problem and I am always looking for an idea that will work for him. I'll have to try this one.

fivetimemom said...

oops! posted at the wrong story....You can find my comment at "prizes in the cereal box...

Katherine@Raising Five said...

We've done something like this with pennies. I have one child that's particularly struggling with attitude right now - I think I need to go get some marbles. Thanks for the idea!

Faith said...

We did this with our oldset four and it worked great. i am sure we will impement it again for little man!!
Great tip!

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

that is a great idea. I think i might do that...

Michelle- This One's For The Girls said...

I've been thinking for a while I needed some sort of system like this. Thanks for sharing.