How to Teach Valuable Lessons With Positive Discipline
The first time I ever encountered the idea of a marble jar for discipline was in a movie I saw on TV in the 1980s. I can't for the life of me remember what the name of the move was, or even what it was about. I just remember that Patricia Neal (at least I think it was her) played a teacher whose class had not had too many academic successes. She used a marble jar system to motivate her students to stay focused on their schoolwork, and they quickly learned they were capable of more than they (or their former teachers) had previously thought.
Marble Jar Discipline
A jar of buttons, marbles, beans, craft sticks, or straws makes a wonderful token economy when paired with a reward that has a value all on its own. It could be a day without homework, a trip to the zoo, or maybe buying a toy the child has wanted for some time. If your child is old enough to choose his own reward, it can become even more powerful.
The system can be as simple as awarding one token for each time the child completes a targeted behaviour. Once the jar is full, the reward has been earned.
Focus on Positives
Target whatever behaviours you are currently working on in your family. It could be things like respecting bed time or getting up in the morning independently. It could be helping with chores around the house. It could also be something like getting along with a younger sibling, or getting through the day without having a temper tantrum.
The beauty of a token economy like a marble jar is that it allows both parents and kids to focus on the positives . Rather than punishing bad behaviour, you work on “catching” your child doing something good. Rather than taking away privileges for misbehaviour, you are offering your child the opportunity to earn them by fulfilling your expectations for good behaviour.
Both children and parents tend to feel much better when discipline focuses on charting progress and giving out rewards, rather than on taking things away. Because expectations and consequences are made clear in advance, kids won't feel that discipline is arbitrary. And parents won't be forced to make a judgement call in the midst of a temper tantrum or a heated argument.
Focus on Choices
It's important to teach kids that everyone has choices in life. Misbehaviour doesn't just happen to your child: he chooses it, and he must learn to be accountable for it. When he chooses to obey the rules, he earns a token. When he chooses to break a rule he forfeits that token, and is no closer to earning the reward he seeks.
Notice that marble jar discipline helps you avoid the trap of entitlement that many families fall into. Your child will begin to distinguish between those things which are his rights – a safe home, loving and supportive parents, adequate food and clothing, etc. - and those things which are treats or rewards for good behaviour.
He does not deserve a reward, just because he gets up in the morning. Similarly a treat is something that happens only occasionally. It is usually a surprise, and is not to be expected. He must understand that while he can always depend on his parents for the necessities of life, the extras aren't a right. They must either be earned or given because it pleases the giver. And that happens more often when rules are respected, chores done, and everyone is getting along!
Image Credit » https://pixabay.com/en/marbles-blue-glass-kids-play-319938/