Written by Marykate Wurster, mother of 3 wonderful children, Gladwyne, PA
I am always up for a new parenting technique. Some ideas I get from books such as my old standbys like 123 Magic and Siblings Without Rivalry . Other concepts from articles, but my favorite and most recent idea came from a friend. I needed a new tool for my mom toolkit and a friend introduced me to the idea of “marbles”.
Here is how it works – I have a mason jar for each child with their name on it. Every time they do something that I am looking to encourage or something we are working on, they get a marble. When their jar reaches a certain level there is a reward – it can be going out for ice cream or to a movie. I am not a toy store person but for some friends this works well.
I tend to do small incentives as the jar is being filled to keep them motivated. So for example when we reach the first line we will take a trip to our favorite penny candy store. And then the next line – out for ice cream (apparently I reward with food), and then once they reach the top, a fun excursion. You can also involve your children and ask them what they think would be a good reward.
I love it because it is so simple. I have used rewards charts for things like potty training but personally find them tedious. The simplicity of this system is its genuis. I have a bowl of marbles and throughout the day will plop them in the respective jars. I love catching my children doing something we have been working on and seeing how happy they are when I applaud them for a particular behavior. I occasionally take out a marble for something but limit that. I like to keep it positive. My eldest daughter, who is the moral voice of the family, finds this most unfair - to have a marble taken away that was earned. I understand her, and yet when I need to make a point, one will come out.
It works so well because it is immediate and tangible so children grasp it easily. The smaller rewards keep them motivated. A 5 year old waiting for her mason jar to fill may seem like a lifetime but small incremental goals / rewards gives her stamina along the way.
My sister, a former elementary school teacher, used this while teaching. Her concept was “Movie Marbles”. When her jar was full her students got to watch a movie with popcorn. If you are looking for a new way to motivate your children, I recommend this. It works! I am marbles about marbles!
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Category: Random and Fun