My presents

My presents

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tips and Tricks: Behavior Jars

We have been doing a new behavioral initiative in my house. Before I blogged about it, I wanted to make sure it would work for my family. Sometimes you hear a parenting trick and think what a great idea it is, but then realize it just would not be a good fit for your family. But, I have to give this one RAVE REVIEWS.

I am not kidding. THIS. IS. AMAAAAAAAZING.

These are our Good and Bad Behavior Jars.

The way it works is this. Both the good and bad jar started half-full of beads. When I catch the kids on really good behavior (sharing, being kind, saying please and thank you, taking initiative, obeying right away without complaint, helping out without being asked etc.), they get to take a bead from the bad side and put it in the good side. This also works vice versa. When they do something bad, they transfer a good bead to the bad side.

You have to have a goal to work towards. I told the kids that when the good jar was filled up, I would take them to the store and they could pick out ANYTHING they wanted (for $5 or less :) For my kids, this was HUGE! I don't know that I have ever just gone to the store and allowed them to pick out a toy for themselves for no reason! (I have to admit, I was a bit concerned at first that the kids would fill up the bad jar, but figured we would cross that bridge when I came to it!)

At first, it was seriously 1 step forward and 3 steps back. But then, they really started to want to earn beads. This began working for both my 7 year old AND my 3 year old! You frequently heard such phrases in our house such as:

"Be careful, you don't want to lose a bead!" or "I think if you can do this without arguing you can earn 2 beads!" I would catch Ellie helping Tyler make a good decision so he wouldn't lose a bead! This also helped tremendously when we went out to a store, the post office or the library. "IF you are very well behaved in the store, you will each earn a bead!"

Within 2 weeks, the good jar was full and the bad jar totally empty! (I have put more beads in it so it stretches out a bit farther this next time!)

Last night the kids and I went to the store to claim their prizes. My goodness those children were EXCITED. They knew that they earned it.....and you could tell! (Welcome to the world of Chuggington and Squinkies :)

I have thought one thing about this system: Is this really changing their hearts and attitudes or are they practicing good behavior to earn a prize? Is this bribery?

Largely, they are doing it to earn a prize and in a sense it is bribery to do good deeds. HOWEVER, there is something to be said for:

1. practicing good behavior and attitudes......."Practice Makes Progress!"
2. catching kids doing GOOD things instead of running all over them all the time for bad things
3. talking with them about how they are making Jesus and Mom and Dad very happy when they do nice things for themselves and each other

This has also done a great work for me.

1. This has made my life easier
2. I do not yell as much. (I have often struggled with raising my entire life)
3. I look for ways to catch the kids doing good. I begin encouraging them in their very good behavior. I think I was missing that before!

To change things up a bit, our next goal is......CHUCK E. CHEESE :) Oh my, are the kids motivated :)

Try it out. I simply can't believe how wonderful this has been to my home!


  1. We do something similar, but they just have one jar each. They start out empty and then earn marbles. I use a rubber band to mark temporary lines, and when they hit those, they get a tootsie roll. When they hit the top, they get a big prize--a one-on-one date that includes a dollar store shopping spree, ice cream at McDonald's, Chuck E. Cheese, etc. They like to talk about what they're going to pick and which parent is going to take them (we alternate). I just pulled the jars back out this morning after they got put away before our trip to PA.

  2. great idea! we're doing a penny jar right now for rewarding good behavior. then i take pennies away for bad behavior. i love the 2 jars concept though! i also like the bead concept!

  3. I like this concept. We just might have to do it.
    I was having a hard time getting the girls to flush and wash their hands after using the potty (without us reminding them every time). Each time they did it by themselves, they got a coin to put in their bank. This really helped.

    Love your great ideas.

  4. This is a good idea. It reminds me of a jar we had in 2nd grade. Our teacher kept mini colored marshmallows and when the class (or individual students) were good, she would allow us to either put a marshmallow into the jar or eat it. When the jar was full, we went on a field trip. Obviously, she regulated it so we didn't go on field trips each week. :) I like the positive rewards for good behavior. So often, we focus on the negative when it comes to behavior.