Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Jar

Our kids are like most kids. They are quick & happy to comply with instructions when we ask them things like, "Miss A, could you get the tub of ice-cream from the freezer, so I can make you an ice-cream cone?" Or, "Mr. Q would you please pull the sprinkler into the middle of the yard so you can go running through it with your sisters?"
Those type of requests bring swift obedience and acknowledgement. When asking them to put their toys away or to turn off the TV or get their PJ's on, we are often met with deaf ears. We were getting to the point where this selective hearing was driving Matt & I crazy.
My sister attended a parenting class where they suggested catching your kids doing good things, then acknowledge them for it. This is where THE JAR comes in. 
We started off with a family meeting, where we discussed different ways of reacting when we are asked to complete a task. We talked about doing the job thoroughly & quickly, doing it while grumbling and dragging our feet, putting it off for a later time, and ignoring the request completely.
The behavior that I expect from my children is:
1st To vocally acknowledge that I've requested them to do something
2nd To either get the job done or explain why they aren't able to
3rd To keep a happy voice, rather than whining 

We explained that Matt & I would be watching for their reactions over the coming days & weeks. If they are quick to obey, we take a teaspoon of dry rice and pour it into THE JAR. We drew lines on the jar & told them that when the jar was full to each line, they would earn a prize. We let them choose their rewards. They came up with:
1. Ice-Cream Sandwiches
2. McDonalds Playplace & Happy Meals
3. Movie at the theatre & popcorn
I, for one, was glad they didn't pick something outragrous like Disneyland. :) 

They reached the first line and ate the Ice-Cream sandwiches after about 4-5 days. It's so nice hearing the kiddos say, 'Yes, mom. ' when I ask them to do something rather than having to repeat things 13 times. 
They got to go to McD's after another week had passed. This was almost 2 weeks in to our Jar experiment, and at this point I really think their behavior had greatly improved!!
Today, they finally reached the last line on the jar. Yippee!
We saw Dispicable Me 2 this evening. It is such a cute show. They loved their popcorn, and getting to watch the "huge TV" as Miss C said. 
Tomorrow, we dump out the jar & let the kids pick new prizes to receive at each level. Although they are far from perfect, they do listen much better than they did a few months ago. THE JAR works!!!

Do you have any suggestions or experience in improving behavior?


  1. That is awesome Elaine! I will continue to look this for your parenting advice :) - Barb