a few weeks ago, we started a good behavior jar for jaden, and let me tell you….our house hasn't been this clean since before the kids.
why didn't i think of this sooner?!?! well, i did, but i never really believed in reward systems as a sole means of discipline. i hated reward charts in elementary school and while i believe in positive reinforcement, i think there is a time and place for punishment. i also don’t think my kids should get paid for doing household chores. idealistically, i want to raise my children to be responsible and learn to clean up after themselves without expecting something in return. that being said, desperate times called for desperate measures, and out came the jar!
for the most part, jaden has always been a well-behaved boy who never had a problem with cleaning up his toys. everly, on the other hand, has been a troublemaker since day one. but recently, jaden has been imitating little sister's mischievous ways and our house had not only become a pigsty but a constant state of pandemonium. having not one, but TWO little terrors was seriously driving me up the walls.
time-outs have worked effectively as punishment, but it’s true purpose of calming down and regulating emotions does not work for jaden. in fact, it does quite the opposite. to him, being isolated for a few minutes in his room (or in the corner) is considered torture and he cries excessively the whole time. so not only i am usually frustrated at the negative behavior but i feel guilty because it's never easy hearing your own child cry hysterically. on top of that, it perpetuates negative emotion in him which makes it very hard for him to grasp the purpose of the punishment and leaves him feeling unjustified. so all in all, it's negative emotions for all parties involved.
so, the good behavior jar to the rescue! we give him a few marbles for positive behavior – like sharing with his sister, putting away his toys, and eating all his veggies – and when the jar is full he gets a reward. we told him he can have whatever he likes and so far he’s only asked for fruit snacks. each time the jar fills up he gets a packet of fruit snacks and then we empty the jar and start over. we thought about only giving one marble for each good behavior and letting it take a few weeks to earn a bigger prize (like a new toy) but for a three year old I think short term goals work better. it takes about 2-3 days for him to fill his jar and not only does he now ask me if he can help clean the house but he picks up after everly, too! time-outs have significantly decreased and i'm maintaining peace without causing tension or evoking negative emotion. win-win! i'm sure the novelty of the jar will eventually wear off but I’m gonna milk it as much as I can for now. :)