Might Be Losing My Marbles

4 Apr

The other day, my oldest came home from school, and shared a trinket that she had earned with her sister.  She told us she had earned so many coins at school (for good behavior), that she was able to pick out two treasures, and thought of her sister.  My husband and I praised her for her good behavior and the thoughtfulness to think of her sister.

Then, we got to brain storming.  We haven’t had “structured” discipline in our home for a while.  It all started to slip away when I was pregnant with our third baby, and quite frankly, I was exhausted.  By the time he came, the girls were literally walking all over me.  I just did not have the energy to do anything about it.

Now, I do.  In the past, we have done behavior charts.  The kids have good behavior and complete certain simple “chores” or tasks, and they get to put a sticker by the picture of what they’ve done.  If they have so many stickers at the end of the week, they get some type of reward.  (We don’t go to a tremendous amount of trouble or money with the rewards, it’s usually something simple but meaningful, like an extra story of their choice before bedtime.)

The chart worked beautifully with the oldest; not so much at all with our second.  She was not at all impressed by the stickers or motivated in the least to do anything cooperative.  In fact, I pretty much had to threaten time out to get her to do anything!

Once my daughter mentioned the coins, it was like a light bulb went off.  My daughter said she is so good and has so many coins, she does not know what to do with them all!  My husband then scoffed and said, “I sure wish some of that good behavior would carry over to home!”

As a direct result, we have decided to implement a marble jar.  A friend of mine did this before and it worked well with her boys.  I bought small inexpensive jars for each of the girls and let them write their names and decorate them.

Before we even bought the jars, we literally only had to say the word, “marbles” and the girls whipped into shape!

The idea is simple.  Positive behavior is rewarded with a marble.  Negative behavior loses a marble.  Once the marbles reach a “fill line” the girls will have earned a privilege.  If one gets to the fill line before the other, they may get a special outing, separate from the other.  If they both reach it at the same time, we can do something fun as a family (maybe a movie)!  The idea is to get the girls to start thinking about actions and reactions and trying to reinforce good or positive behaviors.

I’ll post in a few weeks and update on how it works!

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5 Responses to “Might Be Losing My Marbles”

  1. Lisa January 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    So smart! We implemented a system like this with Paige, our now-15-year-old with autism. Behavior can be shaped (for better or worse!) with any living being!!! Keep us in the loop!!!

  2. Jen January 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    I just love this idea! We do a sticker chart for each of our kids, but I’ve always only ADDED stickers for good behavior. I think now I might be taking them off for bad behavior too! I thought about changing the reward also (once their chart fills up, they get a trip to the dollar store to buy a toy), but I might leave that as-is for now. That part works, so I should just leave it alone!

    And it’s funny, I’ve already started saying “star stickers” when one of my kids misbehaves, and they do instantly shape up! It’s kind of like the whole “I’m going to count to three” deal. For some reason, that works almost all the time. I usually never even get past “ONE”!

  3. Jessica January 21, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    I have used a “ticket” system with kids where they earn them much like she earned coin and were able to purchase a prize at the end of the week depending on how many they have. I have also used a marble jar for the whole class, but in stead of a tactile prize they were able to vote on a reward. My point in this story is that giving kids a choice in anything is always a good idea. For those people who try this but dont get the desired results I would suggest letting the kiddo choose his/her prize. Of course you can put limits on the reward, but it will be more meaningful if they get to choose.

  4. Lori April 4, 2011 at 1:59 am #

    It’s been about two and half months since we implemented the marble jar in our discipline plan and it’s working like a charm for us! The kids go absolutely bonkers if they are asked to remove a marble from their jar. We have made some changes to our system along the way. For example, the jars that I got are WAY too big to effect change in the short term. So, we have the girls count out certain numbers of marbles to earn certain privileges. For example, for 10 marbles they can have an extra story, but for 50 they can buy a small toy. In the process, they are learning more than I’d ever imagined about business too! They can earn, save, and spend. (Neither has offered to donate to the other to date, although maybe we should think about that at some point!) Some of my friends have done a variation of this using a taller slimmer jar, so that it fills up more quickly. I have other friends who use poms too instead of marbles. I’m just really happy that we have discovered something that works for us!

  5. Jen April 6, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    We are doing the pom-poms in a tall vase (our pom-pom pillars), and we’re having good results! Our original idea was that when they fill their pillar up to the top, they can pick something special, like a fun family activity or buying a small toy. As it turns out, all they EVER want is to buy a toy, so we’ve just sort of reverted to that as our standard. But it works – and often, they see something while we’re out at a store, and we’ll go ahead and buy it and hang onto it for their “pom-pom prize” when their pillar fills up. The toy sits there, out in the open, until they’ve earned it.

    That’s an interesting idea to use them like money, to save and spend in smaller or larger increments as they choose. That may be our ultimate goal, but for now, we’re going to stick with what’s working – less headache for me! =)

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