As parents, we try to teach our kids to make good decisions, to be nice to their siblings, and to help out around the house. Kids will inevitably be kids. For every time when I think that I’ve had a successful parenting moment, five things happen to make my hairs turn gray. Our days seem to be full of the following: one of my daughters will take away their sister’s favorite stuffed animal and hide it, or whine about setting forks on the dinner table, or throw their dirty clothes all over their bedroom… trust me, the list goes on and on. When I consciously made a decision to listen to the comments I made to my daughters during the day, I had a wake up call. I was saying more negative than positive. All of the unpleasant moments were causing me to become a bully to my own children. I pointed out all the things they were doing wrong, instead of praising them for the good decisions they were making. I generally don’t think of myself as negative. Most of the time, I’m a “glass half full” type of person and give people the benefit of the doubt. But as a mom, I sadly don’t fit that description. I felt guilty and needed to come up with a game plan. After a bit of brainstorming, I came up with an idea to help encourage my kids to make good decisions and for me to stay more focused on the positive throughout the day. We all needed a visual reminder, so marble jars to the rescue!
On our kitchen counter, each of my daughters has a jar with her initial. Around each jar, I’ve added a rubber band (a hairband actually) to be their goal line. When I catch them playing nicely together, they each get a marble. If I ask my oldest daughter to pick up her toys and she doesn’t throw a tantrum, she gets a marble. Good behavior and obeying our rules, will qualify them to get a marble. I don’t give out marbles for every situation, but I try to catch as many positive situations as I can. Since I want my kids to be successful in learning that good decisions are better than making bad decisions, I’m more focused on positive things throughout the day. It’s a win-win! There is a catch. If they throw a tantrum, tattle, lie, or make any number of bad decisions, a marble gets taken out of their jar. If one of them makes a bad decision that effects the other (such as hitting), they have to put a marble from their own jar into the other person’s jar. And if they ask for a marble after doing something good, they don’t get it. Ultimately, they need learn to make good decisions because it’s the right thing to do, not because they’ll earn something from it. Once their jars reach the goal line, they get rewarded for all of their good behavior. My girls have really been into playing with puzzles lately, so their next reward will be a trip to the Dollar Store to pick out new puzzles. As my girls grow and we get more used to the positive jars, I’ll adjust the goal line (the hairband) further up on the jar. These positive jars have been a wonderful addition to our daily routine over the past couple of weeks. I will admit that some days I still get overwhelmed with life and start to nag on their negative decisions, but when I do focus on their good behavior, they naturally make more good choices.