Ever feel like you’re getting NOWHERE with your kids? WHERE is the handbook for these little forces of nature? Have you been searching for years, high and low, for a ‘system’ of some sort that meets the following requirements?
- Requires little to no special items, like charts, stickers, bags of candy, etc.
- Actually works
Discipling your kids is no fun. It’s not only hard, but can be confusing and frustrating, and gosh darn, it’s so hard to be consistent!
Fellow consultant Crystal Moore created a reward system for her elementary school aged kids, that meets all of the requirements for a reward system listed above (really)!
A Simple and Effective Reward System for Your Kids
1. Get a clear container or jar for each child.
Don’t get out shopping for some ‘special’ jar. A glass mason jar will do!
2. Write their name or initial on the jar in marker
Don’t get out your scrapbook paper and make it all fancy. You’re breaking the ‘simple’ rule by doing that! You can put your glue gun away now. Also, consider the fact that perhaps you are you own worst enemy when it comes to making things complicated? *wink*
3. Collect small tokens for the jars.
In our house, we use marbles. Easy.Peasy.
Find a permanent home for these items (I suggest somewhere somewhat out-of-easy reach, so you’re kids aren’t playing with the marbles and jars).
Now, for the fun part!
You’ll explain to your kids that each marble is worth x dollars. (In Crystal’s house, she’s super cheap and each marble is only worth 50 cents. But that’s enough to motivate her kids, so that’s all she needs to give!)
Explain to them that every time you see them doing something helpful or positive, you’ll give them a marble in their jar. You don’t need to have a ‘master’ list for what these tasks are specifically. This is the reason why Crystal loves this system so much! It meets your needs, when necessary!
Child makes their bed without being asked? 1 marble
Child shares their chocolate bar with their sibling without being asked? 1 marble
And so on, depending on what you see happening.
Or maybe, you want to reward them when they’re trying to learn a new skill . If they complete the task without needing reminding (such as, putting their laundry in the laundry basket instead of the floor, or maybe it’s hanging their backpack up instead of tossing it on the floor after school), you can reward them with a marble!
Need some extra help around the house?
Ask, “Who wants to earn a marble?”
Your kids will come running!
Some jobs may be bigger than others, so you can make them worth 2 or 3 marbles. It’s okay, cause you’re the boss of this Calvin Ball game (you know how Calvin and Hobbes would play a game called Calvin ball, and the rules were always changing, depending on what either wanted? Yeah. This game is like that).
You’ll likely find that your kids will start asking, “What can I do today to earn a marble?” (Are you excited right now? I can tell. You’re really excited about this one! And they will TOTALLY clean the toilet with an EnviroCloth to earn a marble!). They are going to LOVE this reward system!
NOW, FOR THE BEST PART
Warn them: “The next time this happens, I’m going to have to TAKE AWAY A MARBLE.”
The colour will drain from their faces. You’ll see terror in their eyes. Take away one of their hard earned MARBLES?! The tragedy!!!!
This will motivate them to change their behaviour.
But you know what, they’re kids. So sometimes, it won’t change. And you’ll take away that marble. It will be easy for you. And behaviour changing for them!!!!
Or maybe, your child’s latest choice isn’t deserving of a warning. And you just take that marble away.
Or maybe, it was a doozy. They scratched their sisters’ face and drew blood. So you take away MORE than one marble, AND send them to their room.
Once again, you do what you see fit.
What will happen:
Your kids will watch their marbles grow, decrease, grow and decrease. They’ll always have the visual reminder of their hard work as well as a way to track their behaviour/obedience.
Then, at some point, you convert those marbles into cash for their piggy bank. You can choose a specific time of the month, at the end of each week, OR you can keep it extra simple, like Crystal, and just do it when you have cash in your wallet!
The added benefit is that marbles make a loud pinging sound when dropped into a glass marble jar. They will be able to hear this sound all the way from upstairs! So, if you know they’re upstairs being proactive, cleaning their room when you didn’t even ask them to, they’ll know INSTANTLY that they’ve done something good! Crystal’s kids have become like Pavlov’s dogs and as soon as they hear that sound, get all excited and yell, “DID YOU JUST PUT A MARBLE IN MY JAR?!!!!!” and they start to salivate with joy, haha!
This system works because it is the equivalent to what Crystal refers to as ‘kid currency.’ Every kid has a different personality, different strengths and weaknesses, and you have to find out what their currency is. For some kids, being sent to their room is their currency. They absolutely despise it, and they’d do anything to avoid it. Other kids? Whatev.’ They could care less about it and are happy to lay on their bed and take a nap! It’s just not their currency.
Crystal discovered that in her family, this was the BEST currency for her kids. And I think it’s the best currency for MOST kids, because it has a little bit of everything, so it speaks to the masses: visual reminders, sounds, physical rewards, and loss of privileges (the privilege being the marble/money).
So what do you think?
Are you going to start this simple reward system in your home and see if it works for your kids? Just remember that you can give and take away the marbles for whatever you see fit. It’s a flexible system that allows you to use it for what you and your kids need. Try it out, and see what works for you, then come on back and share in the comments how it has affected your family!