Thursday, April 14, 2011

Marble Jars and Positive Discipline

Probably the most puzzling and certainly the most dreaded part of being a parent is discipline. We all hate it. We hate doing it, and we hate that there is a need for us to do it at all. 
But.
Let's be honest. Nobody's kids are perfect (certainly not mine). And from time to time we have to pull them out of the candy drawer, or off their brother, or away from the street...again, and plop them into time-out. It happens.  
Sometimes, when we're really busy or stressed out (or when they have ADHD plus a lot of other things plus a billion brothers and sisters), it seems to happen a LOT. 




I was getting really tired of all of the behavior issues we were having, and of how somehow I had become little more than a warden and a referee. 


So a few years ago, I re-vamped my approach. 


First thing, was to HAVE. A. PLAN
For the times when the kids were home, I needed to have something for them to do. There are tons of ideas out there for fun things to do with kids. Many of them don't cost any money and don't really take much on your part but a little bit of planning before hand. I was a teacher for quite a while, but for some reason, the idea of having a 'lesson plan' for our home time never crossed my mind. 
But let me tell you, it has changed things for us. 
All I do really is keep a list of projects, games, activities, books etc. (it's just one of my bookmark files) and add to it as I find things (I add stuff pretty much every day). Then, at night (I try to do this once a week, but sometimes I get behind and do it the night before... works either way) I pick some activities for the week (checking to make sure I have everything I need in the way of any materials) and just plop it into my daily to do list (I use teuxdeux.com.) Here's mine for today and tomorrow. 

THURSDAY

APRIL 14, 2011

FRIDAY

APRIL 15, 2011













































And that's it. Most days it isn't even anything particularly special. Just going for a walk, or playing outside with water tubs while the boys and I have a game of catch, or having a stack of drawing books from the library on hand when they get home from school with some notebooks and sharpened pencils... that's really all it takes. 
And they have a directed activity that isn't too stressful, and I was relieved of my policemama duties, and we're watching hardly any tv anymore, and everyone has a (mostly) peaceful time at home. 
It was crazy how well it worked. 


and then, Secondly, I came up with the Marble Jars. 




Essentially it's the same kind of thing they have in every elementary school classroom. You know, the kind where you get to put a bean in the jar every time you're caught being good, and, when the jar is full  you all get a pizza party... that kind of thing.


We don't do allowance in the traditional sense here at home, because it seems to devolve quickly into little more than paying your kids to do their chores. Which I think maybe gives them the wrong message. Instead, when they get their chores done for the day, or when they complete their homework without complaining, or have a tidy room at the end of the day, or practice their good manners at dinner - then they are allowed to put a marble into their jar. When their jar is full they are rewarded with something fun of their choosing. Sometimes they choose a toy, other times a trip or outing. And when everyone in the family has filled their marble jars once (or twice... we're working on our fourth filling!) we get to do something special as a family. Last time all the jars were filled, we went to LegoLand. 


So it's really just an incentive program to get them focused more on what they can do that is positive, rather than on how they're going to get punished for NOT doing what they ought. 


Here's what we give marbles for:
Room inspection - just before bed (no punishment if they're not clean... but also no marble.)
Homework - done quickly and cheerfully
Chores - the assigned ones, and any they choose to do on their own (I nearly fell out of my chair the first time Nancy volunteered to scrub the kitchen floor)
Good Manners at the table
Being helpful and kind




So really, that's what it boils down to. Being prepared, and giving them a reason to want to be responsible and kind. 
This has been working really well for us, but I'd love to hear your ideas. How do you keep the peace in your house?


Marbles and Manatees
-shawnacy



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6 comments:

coffee_pot said...

Thank you so much! Loved what you had to share. I totally feel like police mamma most days. We DO have the ADHD & multiple kid thing going on and it gets harried! I know when I plan better, our day goes better. I struggle with planning though. Thanks for the encouragement to keep at it!

Teddi said...

supermom!

Kim said...

big fat sigh. I fail. regulary about being consistant. I am going to do the marble jar though, I will let you know how it pans out. I have tried everything, but I L-O-V-E the simplicity of the marble jars you have devised. I can't keep track very well, but I think I can manage this. Hey I got the mason jars, and they would even make a cute decoration on the table!

Kim said...

big fat sigh. I fail. regulary about being consistant. I am going to do the marble jar though, I will let you know how it pans out. I have tried everything, but I L-O-V-E the simplicity of the marble jars you have devised. I can't keep track very well, but I think I can manage this. Hey I got the mason jars, and they would even make a cute decoration on the table!

Brimful Curiosities said...

The marble jar is a wonderful way to focus on positive behavior. It's a nice visual, too.

quiverfull said...

Thanks everyone!
we've tried SO many things over the years... all those crazy charts and sticker things... i feel like we tried EVERYTHING. even with allowances, i would forget who had had theirs and how much everyone was supposed to get... but with this, it's SO easy, and the kids like it so much they remind ME about it.
nothing better than putting the discipline back on their own shoulders. :)