The Good Job Jar: I suggest this to clients to help them get their children to do chores and other activities around the house with as little arguing as possible. I saw the idea recently on Pinterest, but therapists have been using this for some time… I like to use this in therapy groups and if the group earns enough marbles, we have a small group party. I worked with mandated teenage clients (they weren’t thrilled with being there) so this sort of thing helps keep them engaged more. It worked with teen boys who were court mandated to attend group therapy due to involvement in the juvenile justice system so it should work with nearly anyone.
I would have them put the marbles in themselves when they were awarded them, if it was appropriate (make sure your child isn’t going to eat or pocket them, or throw the jar, etc.). I randomly give marbles for good deeds (ie. helping a sibling with their homework, showing genuine kindness or helpfulness), but not if they ask for or do the good deed with that purpose.
I haven’t had particularly good luck with punishing bad behavior by removing marbles… I think negative behaviors need to have a separate punishment and for that I usually prefer a chart with punishments laid out on them for typical bad behaviors the child exhibits. “My” parents who develop these charts and stick with them have GREAT results; it’s just hard to be that organized for some people because it doesn’t feel natural.
The nice thing about the good job jar instead of a chore chart is that it’s easier to follow through with due to its simplicity. It’s also fun for the kids. You let the child pick an acceptable prize to have and once the jar is filled up then they get that prize. You want to steer them towards acceptable prizes. I recommend NOT doing “gift” type prizes like toys. If you chose to do that anyways, then make sure it’s appropriate for the work done. An XBOX 360 isn’t an appropriate prize for a week’s worth of chores. The greatest gift that you can give your child is your time and attention so I recommend having prizes that involve special parent-child time activities. Your child can pick the activity such as ice cream sundae night (at home/out), a trip to the petting zoo, visiting the park, “coupons” for having a sleepover or being allowed to go to the mall, etc. I prefer things that help the parent and child build on their relationship. Discipline works better when parents and children have good relationships… so the better relationship that you build with your child, the more returns you’ll see on your hard work. And most kids and teens, regardless of what they SAY, do actually want to spend time with their parents. Just like their parents though, they don’t want to spend a miserable time with their parents.
Do NOT offer options that you won’t follow through with or can’t afford. All parenting activities REQUIRE consistency and follow through… if you don’t follow through on them then your child will not trust you to keep your word on other rewards or punishments, and trust is something that has to be EARNED back. It’s not easy to fix once broken so if you’ve not been consistent in the past then it will take longer to work if you’re consistent this time. It’s hard when you can’t afford to do much, but in that case I love the coupon idea… trips to the park, picking out what to have for dinner one night, etc. Things that won’t cost extra or be outrageous costs to you. I also use Groupon, Living Social, and other types of coupon deals online to help offset some costs for activities that I enjoy. It helps.
Figure out how many marbles you want to give your child for different activities that they perform (ie. 1 marble for brushing their teeth, 3 for helping their sister with their homework, etc). Make sure they’re appropriate and won’t fill up the jar too fast or too slow. It needs to be achievable for them. You know your child best so you can judge that best. It won’t work if it takes a 10 yr old 3 months to earn enough marbles to go to the park. Ideally, you’d like to make sure your child can “win” a prize within the first week or so to reinforce the activity.
If you’d like to purchase one, here’s one on Amazon:
I didn’t make one seeing Baby G isn’t old enough to use this yet and Daddy B does his chore nice already (haha). I had one at work (until I dropped it and it broke, boo) and it’s just a jar that I bought at the craft store and I bought the decorative marbles to put inside it. You may want to think of a storage idea for the unused marbles because mine seemed to go everywhere. I always find them in my car because at one point the bag I had them in spilled them everywhere when I was transporting them to a new job.
I really love this activity and I think it’s a great way to encourage kids to help out at home. If you’re creative, you can make your own labels and print them out to put on the jar.
Here’s a few tutorials on making them if you’d like to make one yourself: