Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Have You Found Your Marbles?"

This has been the best "game" for me and my kids! Last week we started a Marble Jar. It's totally a reward system, but at this point in my life, I'm okay with that! Throughout the day they can "earn" marbles. They don't get a marble every time they do something exceptional, but at random times I put a marble in the jar to reward extra good behavior or attitudes, helping me around the house, being kind and polite to their siblings, etc. And it has worked wonderfully! One afternoon I walked through the living room and Bryson was folding all the towels and wash rags, without me even asking him to do it. I think I've heard "yes ma'am" more in the last 5 days than in my whole life. And one morning Alan and I woke up to find Selah and Charis in the bathroom, and Selah was helping Charis get her toothbrush ready and they were brushing their teeth (Selah informed us they were trying to earn a marble). I can't tell you how many times they have jumped in to help me unload the dishwasher, sweep the floor, pick up toys, etc. without me even asking them for help. It has been GREAT! The house is staying cleaner, and they feel a sense of pride in helping out. They understand that they don't get a marble each time, but they know as a whole helping with family chores and having a positive attitude will earn them some marbles. Once the jar is full, they get a trip to Toys R Us to pick out a toy. And let me tell you, this is a pretty big jar. It will take months to fill. But it will be worth it.
And on the flip side, I take a marble away when they are not acting in a way that is kind, respectful, or obedient. When they throw fits, argue, disobey, or do something mean to each other, I take out a marble. They do not want that to happen, so we have had less arguing and complaining, and the "fits" are much shorter! (yeah!)

I kind-of have issues with the whole "rewards and punishment" philosophy of parenting. Of course I want my kids to do and act in a way that is good because they intrinsically want to! But ya know, they're kids! I don't expect kids to have it all figured out. (I mean, do we as adults really have it all figured out?) My goal and hope is that this will at least prompt them to begin having a desire to help out more (not just with chores, but I'm seeing a difference even in their attitudes), and it is also helping them to exercise self-control when they are upset or angry. So far... so good!

There are only 11 marbles in the jar (did I mention this is a group effort?). We have been doing it for 5 days now. Needless to say, more marbles have been taken out than put in, but once they kind-of get the system down, I'm hoping there will be a nice reward in it for all of us!


6HappyHearts said...

My girlfriend does this w/her kiddos.
It has worked for their family : )
Your kids are sooo good they will fill that jar FAST! Now are you saving your pennies for that toys r us trip?! ; )

mommyof3andlovin'it said...

Yeah... I'm saving my pennies for all the marbles I have to buy just to fill that jar. Man is worth it though... you wouldn't believe the difference in the kids. It's really kind-a cool! Worth every $$