The Discipline Jar

For a long while we were having some major discipline problems with Andrew. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it (don’t we all!) which would result in some terrible fits and tantrums. We tried everything: time-outs, taking away privileges and or toys, even yelling. It was making all of us miserable and we were at our wit’s end.

I know a lot of people do reward charts, but I didn’t think that would work with Andrew. He is very physical and visual and I didn’t think it would be an incentive enough, even with the possibility of an award. As I was thinking and praying about this, I decided to try doing an “rewards jar” or “discipline jar.” I talked to Michael about it and we both figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

First, we went to the dollar store and picked up a jar (actually, all we could find was a plastic vase) and some decorative stones (Andrew loves rocks, so we went with the stones but you could use marbles or anything small).

stones

We let Andrew decorate the jar. He wanted to be able to see the stones so he only used a few stickers, and a picture of himself when he was a baby. Then we used a crayon to write his name.

Andrew Jar

Also, I typed up some house rules, a chore chart and a behavior chart. On the chore chart and behavior charts, I assigned a points system. I printed out the charts and taped them to the wall at Andrew’s eye level.

This is how it works: Each time Andrew cheerfully does his chores or behaves appropriately, he would earn stones that he can put in his jar. When he accumulated a certain amount of stones he can exchange them for a special treat. For example, every time he brushes his teeth he gets two stones or every time he does his school work or obeys mama and daddy the first time he gets 5 stones. The stone value depends on the difficulty and/or “unpleasantness” of the task. We also throw in a few extra stones in here or there when he’s been exceptionally good which is helping him stay motivated. ;-)

It has been three weeks now and we are so happy how well this is working! He often looks for ways to be good and earn stones. We have been heaping on tons of excitement and praise when he earns stones, which has been making him want to earn more!

Of course he still “has his moments” and there have been days when  his behavior was so naughty he lost most or all his stones, but overall, he is like a new little boy! :) And believe me, a happy, well-behaved child (for the most part!) works for me!

For the record, we make it very easy to earn a lot of stones quickly and we make it very easy to earn rewards. This way he can visually see his stones build up and he gets a special reward a couple days a week. As a matter of fact, I would say that on an average day, with minimal misbehavior, he can earn about 20 stones just for doing his daily tasks. On his exceptionally good days he has earned up to 40 or more! To balance that out, he needs at least 35 stones before he can start trading them in for points.

Now it’s your turn. What tricks or tips do you have for getting your kids to do their chores or behave as they should?!

13 comments to The Discipline Jar

  • Theresa

    I was reviewing some of Andrew’s chores etc.
    They were cute–even comical. :)
    Keep up the good work.

  • SimpleCatholic

    Thanks Theresa. :) Which chores did you find comical?

  • Do you have more than one child? (Silly question, maybe, to ask a Catholic)

    My problem with such rewards charts is I have only one uncooperative child. The others do what they’re asked without cajoling. But, to work it for one, I’d have to work it for all. Otherwise the kids who behave without promises become jealous and begin to ask for rewards, too.

    Well, I’m glad it works for you. I’m stubborn in thinking that my kids ought to be motivated the same way I am, out of a sense of duty, responsibility and loyalty.

  • SimpleCatholic

    Moonshadow,

    I do only have one child which may be why the discipline jar works so well for us. (We’ve been trying 4 yrs for another one; but that’s another story!)

    Honestly, I don’t know what I would if I were in your situation. I will pray that you will come up with a solution.

    I so wish Andrew was motivated by a sense of duty, responsibility and loyalty, too. Hopefully, as he gets older, he will. Right now, though, not so much!

  • As I read posts such as this, I feel some relief that I don’t have children! I wouldn’t know what to do with them…

    Glad you’ve found something that works. I take it you’ve ruled out spanking as a means of “motivation”? ;-)

    Evan
    Evan…recently posted…Sunday Snippets–A Catholic CarnivalMy Profile

  • SimpleCatholic

    Evan, I’m sure if you had children the Lord would give you the grace to know what to do with them. :)

    I did spank him a few times, but he just laughed. So, no, it wasn’t an effective means of motivation!

  • No, I agree that spanking (or any threats of punishment) don’t work on this sort of kid (speaking of my kid only, not yours) who has no visible desire to please anyone but himself. (Not to say that deep down he doesn’t want to please but has no confidence in his ability to please, so packs it in). It took me a while to figure that this sort of child relishes the notoriety and comes to expect punishment as the normal response. He responds better to unconditional affection than to confrontation.

  • This sounds like a great system. Moonshadow, in my house this would work b/c my younger two wouldn’t have any concept of what’s going on. It’s a circumstance that usually causes heartache, but in this case it works in our favor. We’ve discussed doing something like this before, but luckily our oldest straightens out whenever we get close. I just wish I could get him to tolerate church. Participate. You know. That piddly stuff.
    Kathleen@so much to say, so little time…recently posted…Sunday SnippetsMy Profile

  • SimpleCatholic

    Yes, I agree, Moonshadow. Since starting this discipline jar, and almost exaggerating the praise (i.e.: You brushed your teeth? WOW! You’re the BEST Andrew EVER!) Andrew seems to have more confidence in his ability to please. Now, sometimes he says: Look mama, I shut the light off. Or, look, I put my plate in the sink, or whatever, for the attention as much as (or even more than) the stones.

    Still, we do have our issues. I tell you: before coming up with the discipline jar, my husband and I seriously considered taking Andrew to see a a doctor in case something was wrong, since his behavior was so bad. And believe me, even with the jar, we still have our days – and tantrums!

    God bless you, Moonshadow. Will definitely pray that you are led by the Holy Spirit as you guide your child (children).

  • SimpleCatholic

    Kathleen,

    Even though we award Andrew A LOT of stones (7 to 10 depending on how good he is), it is still hard to get him to participate in church. I think it is just so hard for little ones to sit still and concentrate for any length of time – unless they are fully interested and engaged, of course!

    Now mind you, he can easily sit for an hour playing “Candy Land” or Legos! lol!

    If anyone knows the secret to keeping kids happy in church, I hope they chime in. :)

  • michele

    Hi,

    My name is Michele, I consider myself a good Catholic. I am having major discipline problems with my children–basically they walk all over me. I was very intrigued with you suggestion about the disciple jar and plan on trying it out. Could you please elaborate on how you reward Andrew once he accumulates points. I don’t believe this was touched on. I’m not the best at computers so if you wouldn’t mind just e-mailing me, that would be great. Thank you so much!

  • […] 9:30am Andrew had lost all of his stones, and was showing no hope of earning any of them back in the near future (due to several tantrums […]

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge